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USDA suspends UNR’s slaughterhouse operations again for inhumane treatment

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By Dana Gentry, Nevada Current

For the fifth time in as many years, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has suspended operations at Wolf Pack Meats, the slaughterhouse operated by the University of Nevada Reno, after it took five shots from a bolt gun to render a ram unconscious on March 15.

After the first firing of the captive bolt, the USDA inspector “observed that the ram remained standing and that it looked around and blinked its eyes,” says the notice of suspension. “Your establishment employee grabbed the back-up captive bolt and administered a second stun.” After the second attempt to stun the ram, it “fell to the ground and another employee opened the door to the knock box to begin shackling and hoisting the ram,” but “the ram, which had not been shackled yet, was back on its feet and was looking around.”

An employee, “unsure of what to do,” was instructed by management to stun the ram a third time, the notice says. 

“At this point, approximately 1 minute had passed since the second shot was fired,” says the notice of suspension to Wolf Pack Meats. “The employee reloaded the handheld captive bolt stunner and administered a third stunning attempt; however, the ram remained standing. IPP then observed the same employee use another captive bolt stunner to administer a fourth stunning attempt. When the ram remained standing after the fourth stunning attempt, an employee administered a fifth stunning attempt with the captive bolt device that rendered the ram unconscious.”

The USDA inspector reports one minute and thirty seconds elapsed between the third and fifth attempt to stun the ram. 

In 2019, the Current reported the USDA cited the slaughterhouse when a worker shot a cow three times in an effort to stun it. 

In March of 2022, the USDA suspended operations and reported two violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act when slaughterhouse employees beat cattle and shot a lamb in the back of the head, which failed to render the animal unconscious. 

And in March 2023, just after the facility reopened following a lengthy closure, a pig that was shot in the nose and head remained conscious and crying until a third shot rendered her unconscious, according to the suspension notice for that incident.

“Two egregious inhumane handling incidents within a year, following three other similar incidents, is remarkable for any slaughterhouse, let alone a facility like Wolf Pack Meats that is classified by FSIS as ‘very small.’” said Colin Henstock of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “Many large slaughterhouses that kill far more animals than Wolf Pack Meats don’t have the record of egregious incidents that this facility does.”  

The USDA did not respond to requests for comment on the frequency of inhumane handling events in U.S. slaughterhouses. 

“When a mishap happens, this is how it gets handled and you work through the process and identify the problems and get them resolved,” Wolf Pack Meats’ plant manager Thomas Kulas told the Current via phone. 

Kulas declined to say whether the slaughterhouse has an inordinate number of inhumane treatment violations for a small facility, and directed further questions to UNR. The school did ot respond by press time to requests for comment. 

“These stark violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act are among the many reasons PETA encourages people to go vegan,” says Henstock of PETA, which has asked the slaughterhouse in the past, in a show of transparency and accountability, to install cameras.  “Consumers are in the dark about animals’ illegal agony at this and other slaughterhouses.”

Nevada Current
Nevada Currenthttps://www.nevadacurrent.com
Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: [email protected]. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

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