ASPCA Commends Federal Appeals Court Decision on California Law Banning Downed Animals from Food Supply

Court of Appeals Handed Down Major Victory for Farm Animals
April 5, 2010

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends the U.S. Court of Appeals for reinstating a California law that bans sick and injured animals from the food supply and prohibits a slaughterhouse from holding a non-ambulatory animal without taking action to humanely euthanize the animal. 

This law was originally passed in 2008, but its implementation had been blocked by the farm industry through legal action initiated by the National Meat Association and the American Meat Institute.

"This law was supported by the ASPCA to address the problem of the meat industry shipping injured and sick animals to slaughter," said Bob Baker, Senior Manager of Farm Animal Welfare for the ASPCA.  "This is an extremely cruel practice and is motivated simply by greed on the producers and slaughterhouses.  Producers often allow downed animals to languish without care simply to profit from the animals at slaughter.  Under this law, which the Court has upheld, stockyards, auctions, market agencies, and dealers must now take action to either provide immediate veterinary treatment, or humanely euthanize the animal."

The revised law offers protection to all downed animals including cows, pigs, sheep, and goats.  Downed animals are often treated poorly and suffer from horrific abuse such as being kicked, beaten, prodded, and dragged with chains to get them to slaughter.  These cruel practices will now be halted in California.  

"We hope that this court decision will serve as an impetus for other states to adopt similar legislation knowing that such a prohibition can withstand legal challenges in federal court," adds Jill Buckley, Senior Director of Government Relations and Mediation for the ASPCA.  "California's law not only sets a legislative precedent, but also establishes a legal precedent for other states.  We hope that this will send a message to USDA to adopt regulations to ban all downers from entering the food supply and stop the abuse to injured and sick farm animals across the country."