GROTON – PETA, the animal rights group, hopes the federal government lodges criminal charges against Blood Farm after discovering new reports of improper animal slaughters earlier this year.
PETA, (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) cited two reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the impetus to contact U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling to request a criminal probe into the slaughterhouse located on 80 acres of property on West Main Street.
Richard Blood, owner of the farm that dates back to 1724 through seven generations of the family, said in an interview with the Nashoba Valley Voice that “mechanical” problems were a factor.
Blood emphasized that he and his employees do not take such matters lightly.
The first USDA report detailed an incident that occurred on Sept. 10, 2018, when a pig was improperly stunned by a captive bolt device before escaping from the kill floor to the parking lot and then a field. The pig was then recaptured and properly stunned unconscious before being stuck and shackled.
The new report details an incident that took place on Aug. 16 this year, when a pig on the farm’s killing floor was electro-shocked three times by an electrical wand.
According to the report, the third time the wand was used caused the animal discomfort.
An employee then used a captive bolt stunner to effectively stun the animal.
The report also noted an “ineffective stun noncompliance” for a cow that occurred in July this year.
Colin Henstock, a PETA investigation specialist, previously contacted Lelling in June 2018, alerting the prosecutopr that Blood Farm violated the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act at least seven times between March 2017 and May 2018.
Henstock issued a follow-up letter on Sept. 11 this year with the new violations listed.
“These persistent violations of federal law plainly illustrate that [Food Safety and Inspection Service] enforcement actions are insufficient to deter future violations at this facility and that criminal prosecution is in the best interests of the animals killed there and the public,” Henstock’s letter, dated Sept. 11 this year, read.
Liz McCarthy, public affairs specialists for Lelling’s office, said on Sept. 16 that the office had received Henstock’s letter. She declined further comment.
Farm owner Richard Blood cited “mechanical failure” as the reasoning for the 2019 incident, though it was “hard to say” the cause of the 2018 incident because he wasn’t present for it.
Blood added that the farm shifted to using electric stunning last year at the recommendation of other slaughterhouses and with the approval of the USDA.
Blood said that farm employees have made mechanical improvements to the stunners used to avoid further issues.
“Mechanical failure is mechanical failure, it has nothing to do with people,” he added.
Blood added that the USDA views such issues with “the highest priority” and that Blood Farm complies with all government regulations.
“We always make sure we have water and sanitation for our animals in conjunction with the USDA,” Blood said.
Blood Farm has been hit with multiple suspensions for their past violations, most recently in May 2018 after a former employee hit a pig in the head repeatedly with an aluminum divider. The employee was fired after the incident was reported.
Penstock said earlier this month that the farm is up to 10 violations since March 2017 and if prosecutors get involved, punishment could be a fine of $1,000 or one year in prison.
“We monitor the USDA releases on violations weekly and Blood Farm is one that has racked up the most violations,” he added.