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Stop The Downed Animal Nightmare From Reaching Your Dinner Plate

23,052 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal

76.84% Complete

Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site

Downed animals may be abused and neglected for days, wallowing in their own feces, before being sent to slaughter. Take a stand!


At stockyards, factory farms, and slaughterhouses across the country, hundreds of thousands of "downed" farm animals — those who are unable to stand or walk on their own — are exploited annually for food production.

The fact is, downed animals are not treated mercifully, but often suffer terribly. Animals too sick or injured to stand or walk are often kicked, dragged with chains, prodded with electric shocks, and pushed by bulldozer in an effort to move them to slaughter. Downed animals may be left for days without food, water or veterinary care as they await slaughter1.

These sick individuals can also end up on kitchen tables or school lunch trays, and meat from downed animals is more likely to be unfit for consumption2.

All 6 identified cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or "mad cow disease" in North America to date — a cow imported to Canada from the United Kingdom in 1993, a Canadian cow in May 2003, the Washington State cow in December 2003, two cows in Canada in January 2005, and the U.S. cow announced in June 2005 — have reportedly been downed animals1.

Downed animals are also at high risk for other transmissible diseases. A USDA study found that downers had three times more deadly E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria than other cattle3.

Other studies show downed cows were Salmonella positive at time of slaughter, including one cow in the study who tested positive for Salmonella septicemia — a potentially fatal affliction that kills about 1,000 Americans each year — yet passed inspection4.

Animals that are too sick or injured to stand or walk unassisted — whether in human or animal food systems — should be treated for recovery or humanely euthanized when appropriate. Forcing these animals to stand or walk, endure transport (except for veterinary treatment) or withstand livestock markets or auctions, results in unacceptable cruelty5.

It can also be difficult to diagnose non-ambulatory illnesses and injury, which are often interrelated. This means inspectors often can't reliably sort out the reason(s) an animal became downed, but are still required to distinguish downers who are injured or sick, sending the former into the slaughterhouse and the latter to euthanasia1.

This confusion would be eliminated if the USDA upheld its stated definition of "non-ambulatory," covering any cow unable to stand or walk regardless of the reason.

Help us end unnecessary abuse and disease. Sign the petition and ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking for protections for downed animals by passing the Downed Animal Protection Act.

More on this issue:

  1. The Humane Society of the United States, "Enact S. 1779 & H.R. 3931 — the Downed Animal Protection Act."
  2. Dan Charles, NPR (23 August 2012), "So, Who Sent Those Sick Cows To The Slaughterhouse?"
  3. Lisa J. Gansheroff, Alison D. O'Brien, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (28 March 2000), "Escherichia coli O157:H7 in beef cattle presented for slaughter in the U.S.: Higher prevalence rates than previously estimated."
  4. The Humane Society of the United States, "An HSUS Report: Food Safety Concerns with the Slaughter of Downed Cattle."
  5. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (2022), "Downed Animals."
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The Petition:

To the Director of the United States Department of Agriculture,

Every year, hundreds of thousands of pigs, goats, sheep, and other farm animals will be pushed beyond their physical limits until they can no longer stand or walk. These "downed" animals are often beaten, dragged by their ears or tails, and shocked with electric prods to get them onto the kill floor so they can be slaughtered for human consumption.

The fact is, downed animals are not treated mercifully, but often suffer terribly. Animals too sick or injured to stand or walk are often kicked, dragged with chains, prodded with electric shocks, and pushed by bulldozer in an effort to move them to slaughter. Downed animals may be left for days without food, water or veterinary care as they await slaughter.

No living being should suffer like this.

Animals that are too sick or injured to stand or walk unassisted — whether in human or animal food systems — should be treated for recovery or humanely euthanized when appropriate. Forcing these animals to stand or walk, endure transport (except for veterinary treatment) or withstand livestock markets or auctions, results in unacceptable cruelty.

Further, it can be difficult to diagnose non-ambulatory illnesses and injury, which are often interrelated. This means inspectors often can't reliably sort out the reason(s) an animal became downed, but are still required to distinguish downers who are injured vs. sick, sending the former into the slaughterhouse and the latter to euthanasia.

I implore you to uphold the definition of "non-ambulatory," covering any cow unable to stand or walk regardless of the reason, and extend the federal ban on the slaughter of downed cattle to include ALL non-ambulatory animals.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: