Suffering and Diseased Meat: It's What's for Dinner

Every day, cows, sheep, pigs, and other animals destined for slaughter go "down"—they become too sick or injured to stand or walk on their own. These downed animals may lie for days, without food, water or veterinary care, until they are forcibly dragged by chains or pushed by a bulldozer to slaughter. These inhumane practices can lead to additional injuries ranging from bruises and abrasions to torn ligaments, broken bones, and dislocated joints.

Some mainstream livestock industry groups agree that downed animals should never be sent to slaughter. The obvious suffering of downers, coupled with the increased risk of tainted meat from downed animals, makes humane euthanasia the most reasonable solution. Unfortunately, many segments of the meat industry continue to deal in downers because they can still sell them for human consumption. These sick and injured animals suffer negligence and abuse at livestock facilities across the country.

Humane concerns aside, downers also pose higher risk of carrying deadly diseases. All six confirmed cases of mad cow disease in North America have reportedly been downers. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established an emergency ban on meat from downers, this ban is temporary and only applies to cattle.

A permanent ban is needed to protect public health, prevent extreme cruelty, and provide an incentive for producers to improve the handling and care of animals so they don't go down in the first place.

What You Can Do
» Urge your members of Congress to support the Downed Animal Protection Act.

The Downed Animal Protection Act (S. 1779/H.R. 3931) was introduced last week by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH). The bill prohibits USDA inspectors at slaughterhouses from approving meat from downed cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, mules and other equines. It also requires immediate humane euthanasia for any animal who goes down. Please contact your two U.S. Senators and your Representative and urge them to co-sponsor this humane, common sense legislation.

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