Animal welfare group sues USDA over humane slaughter petition

Animal welfare group sues USDA over humane slaughter petition
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An animal welfare organization is suing the Department of Agriculture for not acting on a petition it sent more than three years ago calling on the department to ensure animals are being humanely slaughtered.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) asked the department in its May 2013 petition to update the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) and require all slaughter establishments to follow clear animal welfare procedures to prevent inhumane handling and slaughter.

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday, AWI attorneys said the government’s failure to respond to the petition has resulted in repeated violations of the HMSA.

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“Since the petition was submitted, approximately 2,000 regulatory violations occurred at government-inspected plants that may have been prevented by adoption of the changes requested in the petition,” the complaint said.

The AWI is asking the court to order the Department of Agriculture to respond to the petition within 60 days.

“The USDA is shirking its duty as a regulatory agency by refusing to initiate rulemaking to amend the HMSA, particularly when many of the causes of inhumane slaughter are well known and easily addressed,” Dena Jones, the AWI’s farm animal program director, said in a statement.