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COMPANY ‘COOPERATING’ IN PROBE OF ANIMAL ABUSE AT SHREWSBURY SLAUGHTERHOUSE

Warning: graphic video, which the Humane Society cites as evidence of cruelty at the Broad Street abattoir.

By JOHN T. WARD

The Catelli Brothers veal slaughterhouse in Shrewsbury has been shut down by federal regulators pending an investigation into allegations of animal abuse, the Humane Society of the United States said Monday.

The shutdown, effective Friday, followed a complaint, accompanied by undercover video, submitted by the society to the United States Department of Agriculture alleging “egregious inhumane handling of calves in violation of federal law,” the society said in a press release.

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.

The society investigator “witnessed animal abuse time and time again, including calves who were still fully conscious up to two minutes after having their throats cut,” the Humane Society’s Paul Shapiro says on the video voice-over.

In statement posted on the Catelli Brothers website, the company said officials are “deeply concerned about the allegations that have been made regarding the care of calves at our facility. Any mistreatment of animals at our facility is unacceptable, and our established practices strictly prohibit the processing of any downed calves.”

The statement, attributed to Tony Catelli, second-generation principal in the Collingswood-based company, says it is “cooperating fully with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials as we investigate the situation.”

More from the statement:

In addition, the very day these concerns were brought to our attention we retained one of the nation’s leading experts on animal care and handling in meat plants and he was on site within 24 hours to help us gather facts and identify necessary changes to ensure that we are providing optimal care and humane treatment of every calf that enters our facility. We are prepared to take the necessary action as the investigation warrants.”

The Asbury Park Press reported that the USDA did not respond Monday to a request for comment. But the newspaper said it had obtained a letter that said the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service initiated the action after it determined that the business failed to handle animals humanely.

“It said it received five videos last Friday that contained edited scenes,” the Press reported. “Two of the scenes contained what the agency said was inhumane handling and slaughter of cattle at the facility.”

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