In June 2021, an Animal Outlook investigator recorded video footage of a non-ambulatory or “downed” cow being delivered to and cruelly slaughtered at Bravo in a protracted episode that we believe violated both federal and state law. A “downed” cow is one who is ill or injured and unable to stand or walk without assistance.
We are calling for criminal charges to be brought against Bravo Packing (not associated with Bravo Pet Food), which slaughters cows to produce dog food and horses to produce exotic animal food. We are also calling for criminal charges to be brought against J&S Barr, LLC, a live animal hauler that advertises its services as “[r]emoval of dead cows, horses, sheep, goats, and alpacas up to 40 miles of Quarryville, PA.”
In the video, one of the workers enters the trailer where the cow lies suffering from apparent illness or injury impairing her ability to stand and makes the first of many attempts to stun her with a handheld captive bolt pistol, a device that drives a steel bolt into a cow’s head to fracture the skull and cause trauma to the brain and surrounding blood vessels. Next, the workers attach a metal chain to the cow and drag her off the trailer until she slips over the edge and slams onto the concrete. There she lies writhing in blood and feces. The cow is “displaying clear signs of consciousness” during this time, according to a veterinarian who reviewed the video speaking anonymously due to fear of retribution. “Her repeated distressed vocalizations and bodily movements … clearly indicate distress, pain, and suffering,” the veterinarian continued.
Over the course of the nearly 17-minute video, the Bravo worker botches several more attempts to stun the cow, each time driving a bolt into her skull and causing brain trauma but failing to render her unconscious, according to the veterinarian. Between each unsuccessful stun attempt, he nonchalantly works on preparing a pair of carcasses for use as animal food near the pools of blood, standing water and mounds of feces surrounding the suffering cow, in disregard of the potential for contamination. Throughout the ordeal, she kicks and moans until eventually the worker succeeds in stunning her, though only after more than ten minutes of unnecessary torment. Finally, he shackles her, hoists her and cuts her throat.
Animal Outlook has made complaints alleging Bravo and Barr's actions violate multiple federal and state laws, including the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, the New Jersey Humane Treatment of Domestic Livestock Regulations, New Jersey's animal cruelty law, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and New Jersey's food safety laws.
Bravo Packing has cruelly slaughtered vulnerable cows and horses in filthy, deplorable conditions for more than a decade, profiting off the sale of their carcasses to unsuspecting consumers. Bravo and Barr’s treatment of this helpless cow was not only callous—we allege that it was illegal. This incident should serve as the final straw for Bravo Packing and we strongly urge New Jersey and federal authorities to intervene and close the company for good to spare other animals from such suffering and to protect consumers from Bravo’s potentially dangerously tainted products.
This event is far from the first time Bravo has produced “adulterated” products, and its egregious acts of cruelty against this cow represent only the latest in a long, sordid pattern of animal cruelty. For more than a decade, Bravo has abused and neglected countless cows and horses with impunity. While the FDA has imposed penalties and prompted recalls for a variety of food safety issues identified at Bravo in recent years—including in March 2021 after an Animal Outlook complaint—no agency has taken meaningful action against Bravo for countless acts of animal cruelty. Despite years of allegations supported by video, audio and photographic evidence depicting abhorrent and unlawful mistreatment of cows and horses, Bravo has continued abusing animals without criminal penalties.
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Key Date: Lawsuit filed on June 28, 2020
On June 28, 2020, Animal Outlook, represented by the Richman Law Group, filed a lawsuit against Cooke Aquaculture for misleading and deceptive advertising in violation of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection and Procedures Act. The lawsuit alleges that Cooke’s advertisements that its practices are “sustainable” and “ecologically sound,” and that its salmon are “naturally raised” under “optimal” animal welfare standards constitute false advertising.
Cooke filed four separate motions trying to kill the case, but the court ruled against it on every one. On June 24, 2021, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia denied all four motions, and the case is now proceeding toward trial.
The lawsuit follows the 2019 release of Animal Outlook’s investigation into Cooke Aquaculture’s salmon hatchery in Bingham, Maine, the first-ever undercover investigation of salmon aquaculture in the United States. Our investigation revealed conditions far from “sustainable” or “natural,” including workers slamming, stomping, and slamming fish into concrete; improper veterinary practices; and filthy conditions, including fish with spinal deformities and fungal growths.
Our investigation is far from the first time Cooke has found itself in legal trouble for its irresponsible aquaculture practices which directly contradict its advertising claims. Fines and settlements totaling millions of dollars for violations of laws across multiple states, including the catastrophic release of 250,000 non-native salmon in Washington state, numerous permit violations in Maine and the illegal discharge of pollutants in multiple locations, have plagued Cooke over the past few years.
Cooke’s industrial aquaculture practices are a far cry from the wholesome, responsible image of “sustainable farming” that it actively portrays. Our lawsuit aims to stop Cooke from continuing to mislead and deceive consumers into purchasing its products.