Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California Lawrence J. O'Neill, District Judge, Presiding D.C. Nos. 1:08-cv-01963-LJO-DLB. 1:08-cv-01963-LJO-DLB.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kozinski, Chief Judge
Argued and Submitted August 11, 2009 -- San Francisco, California
Before: Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, Stephen Reinhardt and Barry G. Silverman, Circuit Judges.
This is an interlocutory appeal from a preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of California Penal Code § 599f, which bans the slaughter and inhumane handling of non-ambulatory animals, against federally regulated swine slaughterhouses.
On January 30, 2008, The Humane Society released a video depicting images of non-ambulatory cows-cows that are unable to stand or walk without assistance-being kicked, electrocuted, dragged with chains and rammed with forklifts at California's Westland/Hallmark slaughterhouse. Footage also showed some workers trying to get non-ambulatory cows to stand by spraying pressurized water into their noses to simulate drowning. Public health professionals warned that meat from these "downer" cows was more likely to be diseased, partly because animals can become non-ambulatory due to disease and partly because downer animals grow sicker as they end up rolling around in other animals' refuse. The video triggered the largest beef recall in United States history.
California responded by amending California Penal Code § 599f to provide that:
(a) No slaughterhouse, stockyard, auction, market agency, or dealer shall buy, sell, or receive a non-ambulatory animal.
(b) No slaughterhouse shall process, butcher, or sell meat or products of non-ambulatory animals for human consumption.
(c) No slaughterhouse shall hold a non-ambulatory animal without taking immediate action to humanely euthanize the animal.
(e) While in transit or on the premises of a stock-yard, auction, market agency, dealer, or slaughter-house, a non-ambulatory animal may not be dragged at any time, or pushed with equipment at any time, but shall be moved with a sling ...