CHINO, Calif. (Feb. 15, 2008) -- Two employees of the now shuttered Hallmark Meat Company were charged today with animal cruelty in the aftermath of shocking disclosures from an undercover investigation by The Humane Society of the United States.
Never before in the knowledge of The HSUS have slaughter plant workers faced criminal charges of this nature.
“Americans know cruelty when they see it, and the HSUS investigation has outraged millions,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States
After being provided videotaped evidence and a detailed report of the undercover investigation, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos charged Daniel Ugarte Navarro with five felony counts under California
"I need the public to understand that my office takes all cases involving animal cruelty very seriously," District Attorney Ramos said in a statement. "It doesn't matter whether the mistreated animal is a beloved family pet or a cow at a slaughterhouse. Unncecessary cruelty will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law."
The filing of these charges marks a milestone because U.S.
“We applaud District Attorney Ramos for taking decisive action in bringing felony counts against people who abused animals in these heinous ways,” added Pacelle. “He knows that this sort of cruelty can never be tolerated, and because of his decision to prosecute, justice is being served in this case.”
Beyond today’s actions, The HSUS urged law enforcement authorities to aggressively pursue any possible leads that point to culpability by the company itself and its senior executives.
Hallmark principally slaughters “spent” dairy cows for the Westland Meat Co., which was the nation’s No. 2 supplier of ground beef for the National School Lunch Program. Many of these animals were unable to stand and walk, as the investigation graphically shows.
A HSUS investigator filmed slaughterhouse employees routinely beating cows to try and make them rise. Cows were repeatedly shocked in the face and eyes with cattle prods, and even rammed with the blades of a forklift. This abuse was inflicted on these feeble animals in efforts to make them lumber to their feet just long enough to be slaughtered – this, despite the known risks that such animals may carry bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or “mad cow disease”).
So far, as a consequence of the HSUS investigation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has removed inspectors from the plant, effectively shutting it down. Meat from the plant was put on “administrative hold.” More than 150 school districts across the nation pulled meat from cafeteria menus, and two major restaurant chains have severed ties with the slaughter plant. Economists can only speculate as to the considerable costs thus far in lost credibility to federal regulators, investigative expenses and the additional price tag for providing replacement food.
Cruelty charges against Hallmark employees were brought under California Cal. Cal.
The HSUS conducted its six-week undercover investigation at the federally-inspected slaughterhouse facility during the fall of 2007.
To see the video: http://video.hsus.org
Evidence of cruelty provided on the HSUS videotape includes:
· Cows struck repeated in the face and eyes when they are plainly unable to stand.
· Non-ambulatory cows rammed and dropped with a mechanical forklift in attempts to force them to their feet.
· Helpless animals unable to stand are dragged across ridged concrete at the end of a chain
· A cow forced to endure simulated drowning in an attempt to make her rise. A high pressure hose is used to force water down the mouth and nose of a non-ambulatory cow for several minutes, while an employee shouts: “Up or die.”