We’re all still reeling from last week’s revelations in The New York Times of animal mistreatment that verges on the sadistic at the USDA’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC). The violent images depicted in the exposé—a pig being dissected alive by an apparently gleeful researcher, a young cow left to die from her injuries after USDA employees immobilized her and allowed her to be mounted by bulls for hours until her legs broke, hundreds of “rag-doll” lambs dead in a field because researchers intentionally left them out in the cold—paint a picture of the USDA’s callous indifference to animal suffering.
Other than a few tepid statements, the USDA has done little over the past week to refute the notion that apathy toward animal suffering is endemic at the agency. The agency’s anemic response certainly raises questions about what other horrors might yet be discovered at the roughly dozen other federal Agricultural Research Services facilities scattered across the country that conduct research aimed at making animal production more profitable.
This week the ASPCA told the USDA that our taxpayer-funded agencies must take their marching orders from the public and not industry alone (see our full letter below). Americans will not tolerate needless animal suffering and won’t allow our public institutions to endorse and perpetrate cruelty.
We urge the USDA to directly address the allegations of abuse at the USMARC and make the structural and cultural changes necessary to ensure that this inexcusable brutality never happens again. We will not turn the page on the gut-wrenching images of abuse until the USDA accepts responsibility and decides to be a leader in eradicating cruelty.