Just months after an undercover video revealed egregious abuse of veal calves in Vermont, the state Senate approved a bill Wednesday to crack down on abusive treatment at slaughterhouses.
“You do not skin calves that are still alive. You do not cut the throats of animals that are conscious of what you’re doing,” Harold Giard, a Democrat in the state Senate said Wednesday in a speech during the chamber’s deliberations, referring to the shocking undercover video released by the Humane Society last year.
“As a former dairy farmer, I find it shocking that they would take animals that I shipped, and that was how they were treated,” said Giard.
According to the local Burlington Free Press, Giard and two other senators offered an amendment to increase the fine for cruelty to livestock from $50 to $5,000 on first offense, $10,000 on second offense, and $25,000 on a third. The amendment would also impose video surveillance on repeat offenders, or shut them down all together.
The Bushway slaughterhouse, where the Humane Society caught the abuse on camera, had been cited three times for inhumane treatment of animals before the video was released in October.
In response to the graphic footage, the slaughterhouse was shut down, and state and federal authorities said they were investigating, but no charges had been announced as of Wednesday.
Brian Mabry, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), told the Burlington Free Press that the USDA inspector at the center of the Bushway investigation had been fired and that a criminal investigation is ongoing.