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Grand Isle Slaughterhouse Closed Following Charges of Inhumane Treatment


Published October 30, 2009 at 3:09 p.m.

A worker shocked this infant calf in an attempt to get him to stand. The HSUS

Some unfortunate news (or fortunate, depending on how you look at it) in animal welfare in Vermont — the Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced today that they and the USDA would be suspending the respective licenses of the Bushway Packing, Inc., in Grand Isle, the only abattoir in the state that slaughters infant veal, or "bob" calves, because of alleged animal abuse. 

The charges were leveled by the Humane Society of the United States after a lengthy investigation of the facility's practices. HSUS provided the state and federal agencies with undercover footage of apparent abuse, which led to the license suspension. The allegations against Bushway are pretty grotesque — shocking infant calves who couldn't stand with electric prods, kicking, slapping and throwing calves and "failure to ensure that stunned calves had been rendered insensible to pain." You can read more about that last allegation in the HSUS report below.

Noted animal behavior specialist Dr. Temple Grandin from Colorado State University apparently reviewed the undercover video shot inside the Bushway facility and called the practices "unacceptable." To read Grandin's letter in PDF form, click this: Download 10-17-09-grandin-vogel-letter-on-bushway

The links to the two undercover videos are here and here. Warning: it's graphic and disturbing.

Bushway is one of a dwindling number of slaughterhouses in Vermont. In 1984, there were 20 slaughterhouses in the state. At present, there are only eight facilities that kill animals for meat. Many of Vermont's meat animals get shipped to New York or Massachusetts for processing.

Apparently, the slaughterhouse is certified by Northeast Organic Farming Association-VT to process organic meat. It also does custom meat processing. Bushway has only been open for about a year, started by John McCracken and Terry Rooney in an effort to stanch the flow of calves out of state.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is currently investigating the facility.

To read the HSUS report, click here.

To read the Vermont Agency of Agriculture report, click here. 

To read more about the veal industry in Vermont from 7D's Suzanne Podhaizer, click here.