HEUVELTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - A Heuvelton slaughterhouse will be investigated on allegations of animal cruelty - this after the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected the facility and found problems - problems the owner says have been addressed.
Ward Willard & Son is a longtime slaughterhouse in Heuvelton.
In August, the retail business was forced to close twice after the U.S. Department of Agriculture found problems with the way cattle were slaughtered.
Under the law, an animal “must be rendered insensible to pain by a single blow or gunshot.” Inspectors suspended the slaughterhouse twice because it failed to immediately stun a cow and a steer with a rifle and had to re-shoot the animals repeatedly over a period of time to render them unconscious.
The owner, 81 year old John Willard, who started working at the family business 70 years ago, says the U.S.D.A. told him he should keep a shotgun handy to use if he misses with the rifle. The suspension was lifted.
"I use a 30/30 (caliber rifle) on a bigger animal and I'm supposed to have a bigger shotgun, which I've got now for a backup in case something does go wrong," said Willard.
The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, got wind of what happened and wants the slaughterhouse investigated.
"You can imagine what these cows felt being shot in the head and surviving the blast and waiting there just critically injured, only to be shot again and again over the span of 20 minutes," said Colin Henstock, PETA investigative specialist.
"I would like these people that's talking about this stuff about me, they would come in and try to do better and I think they'd find out it's not as easy as they're trying to make it sound," said Willard.
PETA asked St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary Pasqua to look into it. He tells 7 News he'll refer the matter to law enforcement.
"We're going to need to do an investigation, a criminal investigation, to see if what happened is criminal in nature in any way," said Pasqua.
Willard says he doesn’t think this will affect business much because he has loyal customers who know him and know how he works.