Compassion Over Killing
Compassion Over Killing (COK) is a nonprofit animal advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. with an office in Los Angeles and volunteer chapters in several other cities.Working to end animal abuse since 1995, COK aims to expose cruelty to animals in agriculture and promote vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world.
Started 6 petitions
Tyson Foods: Stop Crippling Birds with Rapid Growth!
Poultry industry titan Tyson Foods has long touted its “Commitment to Animal Well-Being” and claims to “understand the importance of the internationally-recognized Five Freedoms” for chickens. Yet from the moment I first set foot inside Atlantic Farm, a Tyson Foods contract facility in Temperanceville, Virginia, as an undercover investigator for Compassion Over Killing (COK), I witnessed a very different reality: Behind the closed doors of this factory farm’s filthy warehouses, packed with more than 225,000 chickens, I documented violent animal abuse as well as horrific suffering caused by Tyson’s genetic manipulation of birds for unnaturally fast growth. At just days old, fragile baby birds are dumped into these sheds, where they live out their short lives—never to peck outside in the dirt or feel the sun’s warmth—before being shipped out to slaughter at just 6 weeks old. The hidden horrors I witnessed inside this massive Tyson factory farm still haunt me: birds run over and crushed to death by forklifts; live birds violently kicked, slammed, and thrown; and baby chicks impaled with a metal nail on the end of a pipe. Unwanted, sick, or injured birds were also piled on top of one another in buckets with the dead, left to languish and die. But the suffering ran even deeper than this sickening abuse. Birds languished from a variety of illnesses and deformities, and many couldn’t walk because of debilitating leg injuries. At under two months old, these baby birds were already crippled—and trapped inside their own morbidly obese bodies—because Tyson genetically manipulates them to grow so unnaturally large, extremely quickly. If you or I grew at the rate of a factory farmed chicken, we’d weigh 660 pounds by the time we reached two months of age!This is the second time in a year and a half that COK has exposed Tyson’s torture. In 2016, a COK investigation inside multiple Tyson Foods breeder farms in Virginia revealed similar violence: workers punching, kicking, and throwing live birds; birds crushed by forklifts; and more. The footage prompted the first-ever court trials for cruelty to chickens raised for meat, resulting in convictions on 24 counts of animal cruelty. And Tyson immediately ended the barbaric practice of stabbing a plastic nose “bone” through the nostrils of rapidly growing male breeder birds to restrict their feed intake. Yet while Tyson pats itself on the back for its “commitment to serve as stewards of the animals,” this poultry giant has not addressed a major source of this immense suffering: the crippling fast-paced growth of birds. Tyson publicly strives to “shape the future of food”—but it remains firmly entrenched in this tradition of torture to churn out cheap, cruelly produced meat. Meanwhile, millions of consumers are waking up to the suffering and flocking to plant-based dining. Even Tyson CEO Tom Hayes has acknowledged that consumer demand for plant proteins is outpacing that of meat, and the company has purchased a 5 percent stake in vegan company Beyond Meat. But that first step isn’t enough. It’s way past time for Tyson to distance itself from these preventable atrocities once and for all.Join me in urging Tyson to put an end to the genetic manipulation of birds for fast growth and to truly become a food industry leader by moving toward the real future of food: plant-based protein! In solidarity, “Alex” (Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator) December 2017 UPDATE: Just a day after my investigation was publicly released and we asked you to urge Tyson to invest more in plant-based meat, the company announced that it's doing just that: The poultry giant is increasing its existing 5-percent stake in plant protein maker Beyond Meat. This is a promising step forward, but we still need your support to ensure the company keeps moving in this direction—and finally addresses the horrific suffering resulting from its genetic manipulation of birds for rapid growth.
Little Caesars and Papa John’s: Take a Slice out of Cruelty—Offer Vegan Cheese!
I recently worked inside one of the largest dairy factory farms on the East Coast, one that touts its innovation as the first in the country to implement machine-milking of cows, known as “robo-milking.” Yet the horrors I documented at Mason Dixon Farms as a Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator reveal the much darker reality of this massive dairy factory. At Mason Dixon, which supplies to Land O’Lakes and Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the largest milk marketing cooperative in the US, I witnessed violent abuse of mother cows on a regular basis, including workers kicking cows in the face or udders, jabbing cows with their elbows, bending and twisting their tails, and even punching them for fun. One time, I even saw a cow who was too weak to stand up being electrically shocked over 100 times. On this massive factory farm, 2,500 cows live in hazardous conditions, often getting stuck on large water troughs, unable to free themselves, and falling. Cows even walk in water contaminated with formaldehyde, which workers often handled without proper protective gear. I also watched as terrified cows were turned completely on their sides by an enormous machine, and then they had all four legs restrained so that their hooves could be sawed down in a frightening process. While this facility is not in the Papa John’s or Little Caesars supply chains, the cruelty I documented at Mason Dixon is, sadly, not an isolated case. Footage like mine has revealed time and time again that suffering is inherent in the dairy industry—from newborn calves being ripped from their mothers shortly after birth for the veal industry, to exhausted mother cows being trucked off to the slaughterhouse when they’re no longer producing milk. These haunting images are the sad reality of Big Dairy in America. Fortunately, however, millions of consumers are now waking up to the cruelty—as well as the health and environmental hazards—behind every carton of milk, and are increasingly choosing dairy-free options. Sales of dairy alternatives are soaring, even outpacing those of dairy itself, and the market is projected to reach $35 billion by 2024. But pizza giants like Papa John's and Little Caesars have yet to take a stand against the misery behind every bite of mozzarella and offer consumers an alternative: vegan cheese. So while pizza chains like Mellow Mushroom, Lebron James’ Blaze Pizza, and Pieology are shaping the future of pizza by offering dairy-free cheese options, Papa John’s and Little Caesars are lagging behind. As leaders in the pizza industry, Papa John’s and Little Caesars have an opportunity to make a meaningful change for consumers and cows alike through a simple addition to their menus. Please join me in urging these chains to take a slice out of cruelty and offer vegan cheese. In solidarity, “Ross” (Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator) (*this language was updated from an earlier version)
Walmart and Kroger: Stop Selling Meat from Abused Lambs
When I first set foot inside the largest lamb slaughterhouse in the US where as many as 1,400 lambs are killed every day, I knew I would see suffering. But the horrors I witnessed as an undercover investigator for Compassion Over Killing were beyond my worst nightmare. The image of one live baby lamb confined in a garbage can still haunts me today, but the cruelty didn’t end there. The New York Times broke the story of the footage I caught on hidden camera—the first-ever behind-the-scenes look inside a U.S. lamb slaughterhouse—exposes rampant abuse, including multiple violations of the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. At Superior Farms, a supplier to the nation’s top two food grocers, Walmart and Kroger, I painstakingly witnessed and documented innocent lambs suffering violent and gruesome deaths. Workers often improperly and ineffectively stunned these young animals, who had their throats cut multiple times with a knife and then their tails cut off while still conscious. In fact, nearly 90% of lambs I documented kicked or thrashed their heads as their tails were sliced off, signs that even after having their throats slit, they were conscious enough to feel pain. Some lambs were still breathing, with their throats cut open, as they continued down the slaughter line. I also saw a worker grabbing and dragging a terrified lamb by the wool, a truck driver repeatedly jabbing and shocking lambs with an electric prod for extended periods, and a herding dog who was used to viciously bite lambs, forcing them to move towards the kill floor. Superior Farms is also pulling the wool over the eyes of consumers. On more than a dozen occasions, I documented workers changing “best by” dates on refrigerated meat labels, deceiving consumers about the freshness of these products. Lamb meat from Superior Farms is sold by both Walmart and Kroger, the nation’s leading grocery stores. These chains owe it to their customers to take a stand against cruelty and deceptive labeling by dropping Superior products from their store shelves. Lamb consumption has dropped drastically in the US in the last 50 years, yet two million of these gentle animals continue to be slaughtered every year. Superior Farms touts its “commitment to the well-being and care of the flock” and claims that lambs are “humanely harvested.” Yet our video tells a starkly different story—showing what really happens when Superior Farms doesn't think anyone is watching. Please join compassionate consumers nationwide in calling on Kroger and Walmart to cut ties with Superior Farms as a supplier. In solidarity, Scott David (Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator)
Big Dairy: Got Confusion? Call it “Cow Milk”
Sales of almond, soy, coconut, and other plant-based milks are soaring, on track to reach $20 billion by 2020. Meanwhile, consumer demand for dairy is tanking as Americans become aware of just how cruel the dairy industry is to cows, how it has cheated consumers, and the havoc that dairy milk can wreak on our bodies (got lactose intolerance?). As each generation consumes less milk than the one before it, Big Dairy is panicking. The industry is left crying over spilled milk—literally, dumping millions of gallons of unwanted milk down the drain. Big Dairy is desperate, and it’s turning to the FDA to help squash the rise of plant-based milks. In 2010, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) urged the federal government to block the use of words like “milk” and “cheese” on the labels of dairy-free products. Six years later, that hasn’t worked, so the NMPF is back at it, this time by whipping up members of Congress to write to the Food and Drug Administration about how such labeling is “misleading and illegal.” Truly misleading, however, are current dairy product labels, which do not state what’s really inside: bovine mammary secretions, produced by cows and comprising just the right mix of proteins and hormones for their calves to grow hundreds of pounds in mere months. If it is in NMPF’s own interest in ensuring that labels “clearly identify the true nature of the food,” as noted in its 2010 petition, why not clearly identify dairy as “cow milk?” (*this language was updated from an earlier version). The NMPF claims that it’s worried about confusing consumers. That’s exactly why the NMPF should label its own products as “cow milk,” “cow cheese,” and “cow ice cream.” That way, consumers will understand what they're really buying. After all, cow milk is produced by cows (for cows and their calves), so why not just say it?! Many consumers are no longer swallowing the industry’s lies about happy cows and healthy bones. More and more people are choosing nutritious and delicious plant-based milks over cruelty- and cholesterol-filled cow milk. Join us in calling on the NMPF to make it easier on shoppers to know the “true nature of the food” they’re buying by clearly labeling its products as Cow Milk.
Tyson: Stop Starving Birds
Tyson Foods keeps its breeder birds perpetually starving and desperate for food. When I started my investigation, I was prepared to see animals forced to live in miserable conditions, but I wasn’t prepared for just how extreme that misery actually is. This is the first time anyone has worked undercover inside a “broiler” chicken breeding factory farm.The egregious abuses were the most horrifying to witness: Tyson employees kicked, swung, and threw live birds by their wings, violently shoved them into cages, inhumanely and improperly killed them, and even punched or suffocated some animals to death. Workers also ran over birds with forklifts, crushed them with transport cages, and left them to slowly die.I was also shocked to discover a cruel and painful practice that few people even know about — it’s never before been documented on hidden camera: workers grabbed young male breeder birds by their heads and stabbed dull plastic rods or “bones” through their sensitive nostrils, commonly referred to as “boning.” The wide plastic rods block the birds from fitting their heads inside certain food containers in order to limit what and how much they eat.The good news is that after watching our investigative footage, Tyson announced that it’s immediately ending this cruel and barbaric practice. But there’s still a crucial underlying issue that Tyson needs to address about this practice: why was it being done in the first place?Tyson’s chickens have been genetically manipulated to grow so unnaturally obese so quickly that they often collapse under their own weight and some suffer from heart attacks. With such extreme growth, these birds have developed extreme appetites. However, unlike an average “meat” chicken, who will be slaughtered at less than two months old—before these ailments fully manifest—breeder birds must survive much longer. Thus, to prevent these breeder birds from growing too big, too quickly, Tyson deliberately starves them -- leaving the birds in a constant state of hunger.So while Tyson is taking a step in the right direction by ending the cruel practice of “boning,” these birds will continue to starve and suffer until the company stops breeding and raising birds who have been genetically manipulated for fast growth.The best way we can help birds is to leave them off our plates, but we can also take a stand against cruelty by telling Tyson to stop starving birds! - Rusty, a Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator
Not So Fast, USDA: Stop the Unhealthy & Inhumane High-Speed Slaughter!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to expand a flawed pilot program that allows select slaughterhouses to dramatically speed up their slaughter lines, while simultaneously pulling back on government oversight. I recently worked undercover at one of these pilot facilities, and captured on video the shocking ways this program fails to protect animal welfare—and American food safety. Please join me in telling USDA and Hormel it’s time to stop this high-speed, reduced-inspection pilot program, known as HIMP. By shifting key inspection responsibilities to the slaughterhouses themselves, while also allowing these plants to operate at extremely high kill speeds, this program is allowing animal abuse and food safety problems to increasingly go unchecked. Consumers deserve more, not less, oversight in food production. Before going undercover at Quality Pork Processors in Austin, Minnesota, I knew that I would see appalling abuses and nightmarish animal suffering—that’s unavoidable at a slaughter plant, especially one that processes 1,300 pigs each hour. But what I didn’t expect was how rare it would be to encounter a government inspector, or how many pigs would be processed into SPAM or other Hormel products despite being sick, injured, riddled with pus-filled abscesses, or covered in feces. Even knowing what I did about animal cruelty, I naively believed that the government was at least making sure that the food supply was safe—but I don’t believe that anymore. Now, I know that our government has rubber-stamped a program that gives the profit-driven pork industry free reign to “monitor” itself. I documented plant employees, under pressure to keep up with the facility’s high operating speeds, dragging, kicking, beating, and excessively shocking pigs. I even saw pigs regaining consciousness on the slaughter line—a major violation of federal law. Let’s demand that USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service live up to its name and do just that—meaningfully regulate and inspect our nation’s slaughterhouses. It can’t continue to bow to pressure from industry giants like Hormel. We must end this high-speed slaughter program, which replaces highly-trained inspectors with untrained, industry employees—with devastating results for animals, workers, and consumers. In Solidarity, Scott David (former Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator) October 2017 Update: With a proposal to expand the dangerous HIMP pig slaughter program on the horizon, chickens and turkeys are facing a similar threat. The industry has petitioned the USDA to lift the current maximum line speed of 140 birds per minute (that’s already more than 2 birds every second!). Such a waiver of the cap would essentially allow plants to operate at any speed—a serious danger to animals, workers, and consumers.In 2015, I worked inside Mountaire Farms in North Carolina—operating at speeds of up to 140 birds per minute. I saw live birds being thrown into piles with the dead as workers only had time to perform split-second checks of their condition, fallen birds being thrown across the room, and birds having their heads caught in the shackles as workers rushed to keep up. As investigations and government inspection records reveal, improper shackling can even lead to the kill blade slicing birds open in places other than their throat, and the birds then entering the scalding tank alive. Yet the industry has ignored these risks in a sly attempt to line its own pockets by trying to make slaughter lines run even faster. Please join me in telling the USDA, “Not so fast!”