For Immediate Release:
September 18, 2023
Brittney Williams 202-483-7382
Branch County, Mich. – On Monday, PETA sent a letter to Branch County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Stempien asking him to investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against the Clemens Food Group worker responsible for beating multiple pigs with a paddle at the company’s slaughterhouse near Coldwater. As revealed in a recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, on January 20 an inspector witnessed a worker “hitting hogs excessively … rais[ing] his arm with the paddle at shoulder height, with his elbow bent and hit[ting] the pigs with force.” The inspector also documented that multiple other pigs had “marks … that resembled a rattle paddle mark,” suggesting that the suspect had struck other animals before the official witnessed his behavior.
“These pigs were beaten by a worker who made the last moments of their lives even more agonizing and terrifying,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on these animals’ behalf and urges everyone to help prevent such violence by going vegan.”
PETA notes that this slaughterhouse has a history of inflicting illegal suffering: In 2018, the USDA cited the facility twice for “egregious” violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act after two instances in which workers took multiple shots with captive bolt guns in order to stun pigs. In one case, the animal was left crying out and bleeding from his nose as he was shot in the head three times, leading to a temporary suspension of operations at the slaughterhouse.
The group is pursuing charges under state law because federal officials haven’t prosecuted any inspected slaughterhouses for acts of abuse since at least 2007.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview, and offers a free vegan starter kit on its website. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Stempien follows.
September 18, 2023
The Honorable Zachary Stempien
Branch County Prosecuting Attorney
Dear Mr. Stempien:
I’m writing to request that your office (and a law-enforcement agency, as necessary) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against the individual responsible for beating pigs at Clemens Food Group LLC, located at 572 Newtown Rd., near Coldwater. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in reports that the agency recently made available to the public. (See the attached table.)
According to the report, on January 20 an FSIS agent witnessed the worker “hitting hogs excessively” with a paddle. The agent “observed the [suspect] raise his arm with the paddle at shoulder height, with his elbow bent and hit the pigs with force.” The agent also “observed multiple pigs within this group … with marks approximately 6 inch[es] x 8 inch[es] in size that resembled a rattle paddle mark,” suggesting that the suspect had struck other animals before the FSIS official witnessed his behavior.
This conduct may violate MCL § 750.50, as the documented acts aren’t generally accepted animal husbandry practices involving livestock otherwise exempt from prosecution. Please note that FSIS’ action carries no criminal or civil penalties and does not preempt criminal liability under state law for acts of cruelty to animals. Given that the FSIS hasn’t initiated a criminal prosecution of a licensed slaughterhouse for inhumane handling since at least 2007, charges under state law are these victims’ only chance at a measure of justice.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis
Cruelty Investigations Department