By JOHN T. WARD
The shutdown of the Catelli Brothers veal slaughterhouse over allegations of animal abuse “shocked” Shrewsbury officials, Mayor Donald Burden said Tuesday.
The suspension of operations ordered Friday by the United States Department of Agriculture followed a complaint and undercover video purporting to show “egregious inhumane handling of calves in violation of federal law,” according to the Humane Society of the US, which prompted the action.
“It’s operated there for years, and we’ve never had any complaints from neighbors or to the police department,” Burden told redbankgreen.
The video, shot in late 2013 by an unidentified Humane Society investigator, purports to show prolonged efforts to kill animals with bolt guns and abuse of animals being led to slaughter despite their inability to walk as a result of injury or illness.
In statement posted on the Catelli Brothers website Monday, the company said it is “cooperating fully” with the USDA investigation and has retained “one of the nation’s leading experts on animal care and handling in meat plants” to help gather fats.
Burden said he was in a meeting with the borough board of health when he first heard about the shutdown.
“It took us by surprise,” he said. “I called the [police Chief Lou Ferraro], and he didn’t know anything about it.” Ferraro also told him there had been no complaints about the plant.
“They’ve been a good neighbor, and very supportive of the community,” said Burden, who added he did not know how many people worked at the plant.