Pel-Freez, The Largest Rabbit Slaughterhouse in the US Exposed!

A Special Investigation

LCA went undercover at Pel-Freez, the largest rabbit slaughterhouse in the United States, and documented horrific abuse. In a barbaric slaughter process that involved breaking live rabbits' legs and slicing their throats, the rabbits endured immense torture -- even as USDA inspectors looked on. LCA's investigation shows that despite false advertising claims, rabbit meat is anything but humane.

Victories!

Gelson's Supermarkets

Following LCA's petition and protest, Gelson's has removed all rabbit meat from store shelves, with no plans to restock it once the current batch is sold off. Thank you to all who spoke out against rabbit cruelty! LCA will continue targeting stores that sell rabbit meat, to let them know it is not OK to endorse rabbit cruelty.

Harris Teeter Supermarkets

Harris Teeter's corporate office confirmed with LCA that they will no longer carry Pel-Freez rabbit meat. They have pulled all Pel-Freez products from the shelves, and stated that they “do not intend to do any further business with Pel-Freez."

Whole Foods Supermarkets

Whole Foods has announced they will stop selling all rabbit meat.  Special thanks to the Rabbit Advocacy Network, SaveABunny, and House Rabbit Society for their tireless efforts to end rabbit meat at Whole Foods.

The Findings of LCA’s Undercover Investigation at Pel-Freez Rabbit Slaughterhouse

  • Ineffective Stunning

    Before slaughter, a worker known as the "killer" hits the rabbit on the forehead with the dull edge of a knife to try to knock them unconscious. This method is often ineffective, as the video above clearly shows. Many rabbits are struck multiple times, yet never lose consciousness; they remain fully awake throughout the torturous slaughter process.

  • Hanging and Breaking Bones

    After the attempted stunning, the killer hangs the rabbit upside down, breaks one of their hind legs, and hangs them from a shackle. The bone may pierce through the skin. Rabbits who are still conscious scream loudly as their leg is snapped in two – rabbits are naturally silent animals, so these cries indicate severe pain and trauma.

  • Decapitation

    Broken and shackled, the rabbit will finally be killed. To do this, the killer cuts from the back of the neck to the front with his knife, beheading the animal. As the blade grows dull, more cuts are needed, slowing the process and increasing the agony. Workers must sometimes use a sawing motion and vigorous effort. Rabbits who are still awake continue to scream until the knife finally slices through their vocal cords.

Expert Statement

John Webster, Professor Emeritus at University of Bristol

John Webster, MA, Vet MB (Cantab), PhD, DVM (Hon, London), MRCVS, Professor Emeritus, University of Bristol, UK

...Rabbits that have their ankles dislocated and are hung on hooks while clearly conscious and in great distress are clearly being subject to unnecessary and unacceptable suffering.

Diary of the Investigator

Day 5

The days started off with a walk through a dark parking lot toward an unimpressive building with a stuffed rabbit sitting in the front window. It was just like any other stuffed rabbit you might see in a children’s toy box. This was the Pel-Freez plant, the largest rabbit slaughterhouse in the United States. I worked as a blood catcher, collecting vials of rabbit blood to be sold for medical research. Standing there, in the kill room, I would see the killer capturing, shackling, breaking legs and cutting off rabbit heads. Depending on which breeder the rabbits came from, you would see different types of injuries or illnesses. I saw dozens of male rabbits with swollen, black, encrusted testicles and hardened, exposed and inflamed genitalia. Some even had an exposed testicle dangling outside of the skin, or what looked like intestine. Others had patches of fur missing and scabbed-over wounds on their backs and sides. Still others had abscesses and eye infections, with their eyes watering or swollen shut and covered in scabs. I never heard anyone mention medical treatment.

Day 12

There were instances, too many to count, when I would look up on the kill line to see a rabbit, gripped in the hands of the killer, with eyes wide open as he was struck repeatedly over the top of the head or face. It was at these times I clearly understood the ineffectiveness of the stunning techniques used at this plant. The back of the knife left bloody lines across the conscious rabbit’s face and head where she had been struck, from blood still on the knife from previously killed rabbits. Staring into the eyes of the rabbit as they flinched from yet another ineffective blow, and being helpless to end their torture, was crushing for me. This was especially true on occasions when the killer just flipped the rabbit upside down after giving up on stunning, placed their leg in the shackle, breaking it as they did so, then severed their head – all while the rabbit remained fully conscious.

Day 23

I can still hear their screams ringing in my ear; sometimes I hear them when I close my eyes at night. For the rabbits who weren’t “lucky enough” to lose consciousness during the stunning process, their last moments were ones of complete horror and suffering. Some would let out a short, sad noise as their head was severed from their body. More still would let out an absolutely horrifying scream as their leg was broken in the shackle, pieces of bone protruding from the skin as they hung there crying out in pain. Upon hearing their screams, some of the women workers on my crew would turn quickly to their place at the front of the line in order to catch the suffering rabbits blood and ensure quickness, the only acknowledgement of the horrors these rabbits suffered. When I was down the line sometimes, I’d hear a rabbit emit a cry as they were grabbed from the bin by the killer. They would thrash and scream while he tried to gain a handle on them in order to inflict the blow that would render them stunned. Many simply hung silent in the killer’s grasp. But the worst cases were the prolonged, agonizing screams.

More About Rabbit Slaughter

Rabbits are intelligent, highly sensitive creatures who thrive as companion animals in loving homes. At Pel-Freez, the largest rabbit meat processor in the country, torture is being inflicted on rabbits on a massive scale.

In the first-ever investigation of a U.S. rabbit slaughterhouse, LCA went undercover to expose the extreme brutality inflicted on rabbits at Pel-Freez. Screams of torturous pain are heard from the CONSCIOUS rabbits as slaughterhouse workers routinely break rabbits’ legs, hang them upside down on hooks and cut off their heads.

After completing the investigation, LCA submitted a criminal complaint to the Benton County Prosecutors Office detailing 323 instances where conscious rabbits experienced intentional infliction of major physical trauma, and 193 instances where rabbits were experiencing pain and distress, all overseen by plant managers and many times witnessed by USDA inspectors at Pel-Freez.

Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith decided not to charge Pel-Freez, claiming they did not "knowingly” subject the rabbits to animal cruelty.

The abuse inflicted on rabbits is clearly evident in LCA’s undercover footage; the hell hole known as Pel-Freez needs to be prosecuted and put out of business permanently.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

#1.) SIGN the petition above.

#2.) SPREAD THE WORD AND EDUCATE OTHERS! - Post messages on your social media urging charges to be filed against Pel-Freez.

 #3.)  ADOPT A CRUELTY FREE LIFESTYLE - Buy products that are only cruelty free and adopt a vegan diet.

ABOUT LCA

Last Chance for Animals (LCA) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation through education, investigations, legislation, and media attention. The organization believes that animals are highly sentient creatures who exist for their own reasons independent of their service to humans; they should not be made to suffer for the latter. — Visit LCAnimal.org »

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