PETA Urges Criminal Investigation Following Death of 23 Big Island Cows

This morning, PETA sent a letter to Chief John Batiste of the Washington State Patrol urging him to open a criminal investigation into the deaths of at least 20 cows and the suffering of others after a cattle transport container fell from a truck being hauled for J & H Express on Interstate 90 in Seattle on Saturday. The animals were piled atop each other, covered with feces, and apparently deprived of veterinary care for up to six hours while crews righted the container and hauled the animals to Sunnyside, Wash.

In its letter, PETA points out that Washington law states that whoever recklessly or with criminal negligence inflicts unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal or fails to provide an animal he or she owns with necessary medical attention commits the offense of cruelty to animals in the second degree. PETA also notes a state animal transport law that may have been violated. In addition, the J & H Express driver was cited for traveling too fast and failing to secure his load.

“The terror and pain that these animals experienced as the container slid along the highway on its side and in the hours after the crash are difficult to imagine,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “Laws are in place to protect animals from this type of cruelty and negligence, and PETA is calling on the Washington State Patrol to hold everyone responsible for the suffering accountable.”

Photographs from the incident show the filthy conditions that the cattle were forced to endure inside the container.

PETA’s letter to Chief John Batiste of the Washington State Patrol follows.

 

October 17, 2012

 

Chief John R. Batiste
Washington State Patrol

 

Dear Chief Batiste,

I hope this letter finds you doing well. This communication serves as a request for the Washington State Patrol (WSP) to investigate and, as appropriate, bring cruelty-to-animals and unsafe-animal-transport charges against the person(s) responsible for the deaths and prolonged suffering of up to 70 cattle following the October 6, 2012, crash of a transport container on Interstate 90 in Seattle.

The container unhinged and slid 200 yards along the road when driver Nikolay Ivanovich Karavayev, 52, of Bellingham, Wash., rounded a curve while driving for J & H Express, Inc. Video of the gruesome scene shows struggling survivors kicking their limbs and hooves, which were stuck in the container’s grated sides, and the animals were apparently denied emergency veterinary care. WSP responders’ photographs show cattle piled atop one another and covered with feces. About three hours passed before the cattle—who had already endured many hours of transport from Hawaii—were driven three additional hours to Sunnyside, Wash. At least 20 of the cattle were evidently dead upon arrival. Karavayev was cited for traveling too fast and failing to secure his load. WSP personnel found that he “failed to lock down all four corners” of the container given that two of its locking pins “had no damage or marking on them.”

RCWA §16.52.207 provides that whoever recklessly or with criminal negligence inflicts unnecessary suffering upon an animal or fails to provide an animal he or she owns with necessary medical attention, and the animal suffers unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain as a result, commits the offense of animal cruelty in the second degree. RCWA §16.52.080 provides that any person who willfully causes animals to be transported in a manner that jeopardizes their safety or that of the public is guilty of a misdemeanor.

None of the conduct described above illustrates the accepted husbandry practices used in the commercial raising or slaughtering of livestock that RCWA §16.52.185 protects from prosecution as cruel. For example, the American Meat Institute Foundation requires that slaughterhouses have emergency plans in place for animals involved in accidents, including unloading at alternate locations. Similarly, the Washington Dairy Products Commission requires that cattle be handled, moved, and transported in a manner that avoids unnecessary pain or distress. I hope you agree that this incident merits criminal investigation. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Dan Paden
Senior Research Associate
Cruelty Investigations Department