In March the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a California ban on slaughtering downed animals, or animals who are too sick, weak or injured to stand on their own.
The decision overturns last year’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill, which ruled that a federal food safety law that prevents this from happening means nothing, a decision exemplifying the meat industry’s complete disregard for animal suffering and lack of concern for food safety over profit.
The new ruling means that the state of California has the right to decide which animals are sent to slaughter and has the ability to ban the sale, transport or purchase of downer cows and pigs, despite protests from the National Meat Association and the American Meat Institute who challenged the law in 2008, arguing that the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) prevents states from having any say in the matter.
“Regulating what kinds of animals may be slaughtered calls for a host of practical, moral and public health judgments that go far beyond those made in the FMIA,” said Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. “These are the kinds of judgments reserved to the states, and nothing in the FMIA requests states to make them on a species-wide basis or not at all. Federal law regulates the meat inspection process; states are free to decide which animals may be turned into meat.”
Aside from the inherent cruelty of kicking, dragging and electrocuting non-ambulatory animals into the slaughterhouse after they’ve suffered miserable lives on factory farms and days of grueling transport, when every animal is treated like a dollar sign, sick ones are going to get into the food supply too. And we all know by now that stressed and sick animals have a much greater risk of harboring bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella, which kill hundreds of people every year.
“The abuse of living, breathing, feeling animals who are too sick, injured and weak to stand is incongruent with Californians’ values of mercy and compassion,” said Farm Sanctuary president and co-founder Gene Baur. “We applaud the Court for refusing to protect the interests of big agribusiness at the expense of the American people and the animals entrusted to our care.”