Animals Cry Out After Slaughterhouse Workers Botch Six Stun Attempts; PETA Calls For Changes



For Immediate Release:
September 21, 2023

Nicole Perreira 202-483-7382

Craig, Colo. – Following a whistleblower tip that animals were suffering at Fitch Ranch Artisan Meat Co. in Craig, PETA has obtained a “Letter of Concern” that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent to the slaughterhouse following six recent botched attempts to stun animals—including a steer, who remained standing and crying out after a worker shot him in the head. In response, PETA fired off a letter today to owner Deborah Fitch calling on her to report the employees involved in the incidents to local law-enforcement officials for possible violations of the state’s anti-cruelty statute and to reassign them to positions that don’t involve contact with live animals. The group is also asking Fitch to butcher only wild animals killed by hunters or at least to livestream video footage from the slaughterhouse in order to help prevent additional violations of the law.

On June 14, 2023, a worker electrocuted a pig near the shoulder blades instead of the head. The pig cried out, ran around, and tried to climb out of the “stun box” before another employee finally rendered the animal unconscious. Similar incidents at the facility this year include the following:

  • On June 28, a pig was electrocuted, remained conscious, and cried out after the electrical tongs slipped off her ears.
  • On June 26, a steer continued standing, looking around, crying out, and bleeding after he was shot in the head.
  • On June 21, a worker shot a lamb twice after the first shot failed to stun the animal.
  • On June 20, a cow continued to stand and look around after being shot in the head.
  • On March 1, a steer remained conscious after he was shot in the head.

“Animals have endured prolonged, agonizing deaths after being shot and electrocuted repeatedly in a disturbing pattern at Fitch Ranch,” says PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on this facility to make immediate changes to stop this horrific cruelty and reminds everyone that the only humane meal is a vegan one.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview, and offers a free vegan starter kit on its website. For more information, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Fitch follows.

September 21, 2023

Deborah Fitch


Fitch Ranch Artisan Meat Co.

Dear Ms. Fitch:

Given the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent “Letter of Concern” and noncompliance records detailing the cases of at least six animals who remained conscious after your workers shot or electrocuted them during a recent four-month period at Fitch Ranch Artisan Meat Co., we ask that you immediately change operations there in the hope of reducing—if not ending—animal suffering in your slaughterhouse.

In light of the egregious pain and terror that your staff have caused cows, pigs, and sheep, in violation of federal law, won’t you please stop slaughtering them? Rather than risking further, similar violations, you could focus on solely processing the bodies of wild animals brought to you by hunters.

If you feel you must continue to slaughter farmed animals, will you please publicly livestream video from all areas of your facility where live animals are handled? Workers would take their duty to handle animals lawfully more seriously if they knew that caring people were watching. As the world’s foremost expert on livestock welfare, Dr. Temple Grandin, writes, “Plants [t]hat are doing a good job should show what they are doing.” Your industry often complains that today’s consumers don’t understand how animals are raised and killed for food. You could help by enabling us to observe your workers moving countless individual animals—who value their lives as we value ours—off crowded trucks in all weather, attempting to stun them, slashing or sticking their throats, and bleeding them to death.

At the very least, will you reassign your staff referenced in the federal reports to jobs that don’t involve having contact with any live animals—such as evisceration, butchering, and packaging—and report the involved personnel to your local law-enforcement agency for investigation for possible violations of the state’s anti-cruelty statute?

Thanks for your consideration.


Colin Henstock

Investigations Project Manager