Use Your Voice—Downed Animals Deserve Protection


Most farmed animals have no legal protection when they are too injured or sick to stand. It’s time for a federal law to protect more downed animals.

Downed animals are farmed animals who are too injured, weak, or ill to walk or stand without assistance. They can go down any time from farm to slaughter, and currently, federal rules to protect these animals exist only for downed cows. Other animals suffer at slaughterhouses when they are pushed, prodded, or dragged despite their disability. And producers can continue to cut corners on care, since animals who become disabled because of cruel practices can still be slaughtered and sold.

From 1991 to 2006, the Downed Animal Protection Act (DAPA)—which would amend the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to include legal protection for downed cows, pigs, goats, and other animals—was introduced in Congress. When it didn’t pass, advocacy organizations shifted their focus from legislation to federal rulemaking. Two rules requiring that downed adult cattle and baby calves at slaughterhouses be immediately euthanized were put in place (in 2009 and 2014, respectively) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 2014, Mercy For Animals and a handful of other organizations petitioned the USDA to make a rule about downed pigs. The USDA denied the petition in 2019, and Mercy For Animals is in litigation against the agency. 

It’s time DAPA was reintroduced in Congress, and your voice is crucial. Please urge your members of Congress to support the reintroduction of an improved version of DAPA so that downed animals are finally afforded protection. 

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