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Table of State Humane Slaughter Laws

Rebecca F. Wisch


Animal Legal & Historical Center
Publish Date:
2006
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law
Printable Version

Table of State Humane Slaughter Laws

 

Below is a table summarizing the 20 or so state humane slaughter laws.  Nearly all the states provide by law that an animal must be "rendered insensible to pain" (e.g., made unconscious or killed) prior to being hoisted or shackled for slaughter.  Most of these state laws also contain a religious/ritual slaughter exception whereby an animal may be killed by severing the carotid artery, causing loss of consciousness prior to be hoisted.  About half of the states expand the definition of "livestock" to any animal used in the preparation of meat products.  Penalty for violation of these statutes is relatively lenient, especially considering the prevalence of large-scale commercial slaughter operations in this country.  Florida by far has the strictest penalty, making each violation subject to a maximum $10,000 per day civil fine and as well as a criminal misdemeanor.  West Virginia has a penalty scheme that increases for subsequent violations, including the possible revocation of a license to slaughter.  In contrast, New Jersey has a provision that explicitly exempts violators from penalty if the violation is considered "incidental" or "minor."  The majority of the states, however, make violation of their acts simple misdemeanors.

 

State

Citation

Date Enacted

Allowed Methods

Religious/Ritual Exemption

Animals Covered

Penalty

AZ

AZ ST § 3-2002 – 2017

 

 

 

1956

All animals must be rendered insensible to pain by a single blow or gunshot or an electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective.

 

Note: exemption for personal use of slaughtered animal.

The ritual requirements of the Jewish faith or any other religious faith that prescribes a method of slaughter whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain.

Cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine, and other livestock.

 

 

No penalty is listed under the humane slaughter statute (note that the section lists specific penalties for other violations).

CA

CA FOOD & AG § 19501 – 19503

 

 

Poultry Slaughter Laws –

 

CA FOOD & AG § 1245 et seq.

  

1967

Captive bolt, gunshot, electrical or chemical means, or any other means that is rapid and effective before being cut, shackled, hoisted, thrown, or cast, with the exception of poultry which may be shackled.

 

Jewish or any other religious faith that prescribes a method of slaughter whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain.

All cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine, goats, or fallow deer subject to this part, or poultry subject to Part 1.

 Not listed in laws, but may be in rules.

CO

CO ST § 35-33-203 – 407

 

 

 

1989

Note: this section is repealed July 1, 2009 pursuant to § 35-33-407

Method whereby an animal is rendered insensible to pain by a mechanical, electrical, chemical, or other means that is rapid and effective.

 

Cannot use a manually operated hammer, sledge, or poleax.

 

Poultry shall be slaughtered in accordance with “good commercial practices” and in a manner that will result in thorough bleeding and assure that breathing has stopped prior to scalding.

 

Rabbits shall be stunned before killing.

A method employed in connection with the ritual requirements of any religious faith whereby an animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain.

"Livestock" means cattle, calves, sheep, swine, horses, mules, goats, and any other animal which may be used in and for the preparation of meat or meat products.

 

 

In addition to criminal penalties prescribed, violation incurs a civil penalty of not more than $750 per violation for each day of violation.

 

Violation of provisions of this article or any rule or regulation promulgated under this article commits a class 2 misdemeanor.

FL

F. S. A. § 828.22

 

1961 (orig.)

A method whereby the animal is rapidly and effectively rendered insensitive to pain by electrical or chemical means or by a penetrating captive bolt or gunshot with appropriate caliber and placement.

A method in accordance with ritual requirements of any religious faith whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain.

"Livestock" means cattle, calves, sheep, swine, horses, mules, goats, ostriches, rheas, emus, and any other domestic animal that can or may be used in the preparation of animal products.

 

Note that "livestock" here does not include poultry and aquatic species

Any person who violates the Act and any associated rule is subject to an administrative fine of up to $10,000 for each violation.

 

Also a misdemeanor of the second degree.

 

Nothing in this section precludes the enforcement of s. 828.12, relating to cruelty to animals.

IA

IA ST § 189A.18 - 189A.22

 

 

1965

Limited to slaughter by shooting, electrical shock, captive bolt, or use of carbon dioxide gas.

Ritual requirements of the Jewish or any other faith that prescribes and requires a method whereby slaughter becomes effected by severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.

"Livestock" means a live or dead animal which is limited to cattle, sheep, swine, goats, farm deer, or an equine including a horse or mule.

 

"Poultry" means any domesticated bird, whether live or dead.

Any person who violates any provisions of this chapter for which no other criminal penalty is provided shall be guilty of a simple misdemeanor.

IL

IL ST CH 510 § 75/0.01 - 75/8

 

 

 

1967

A method whereby the animal is rendered insensible to pain by gunshot or by mechanical, electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective.

A method in accordance with ritual requirements of the Jewish faith or any other religious faith whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain. 

 

Also In order to protect freedom of religion, paragraph (b) of Section 3 does not apply to calves and sheep and cattle where ritually acceptable and practical methods are unavailable for positioning livestock for purposes of slaughter in accordance with the requirements of any religious faith.

Cattle, calves, sheep, swine, horses, mules, goats, and any other animal which can or may be used in and for the preparation of meat or meat products for consumption by human beings or animals.

Any violation of this Act or of the rules and regulations is a petty offense.

IN

IN ST 15-2.1-24-1 - 15-2.1-24-33

 

 

1996

State board establishes rules that require animals to be rendered insensible to pain prior to severance of the carotid artery.

Not in law specifically, but may be in rules promulgated by board.

Livestock and poultry (according to the Purpose of Chapter, Sec. 15-2.1-24-1(3)).

A person who recklessly violates this chapter commits a Class B misdemeanor.

Each day a violation continues constitutes a separate offense.

 

KS

KS ST § 47-1401 – 1405

 

 

1961

A method whereby the animal is rendered insensible to pain by mechanical, electrical, chemical, or other means that is rapid and effective. 

 

The use of a manually operated hammer, sledge, or poleax is declared to be an inhumane method of slaughter

A method in accordance with ritual requirements of the Jewish faith or any other religious faith whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain

Cattle, calves, sheep, swine, horses, mules, goats, aquatic animals, domesticated deer, all creatures of the ratite family that are not indigenous to this state, including but not limited to ostriches, emus and rheas, and any other animal which can or may be used in and for the preparation of meat or meat products.

Misdemeanor (exact terms not specified).

MD

MD Code, Agriculture, § 4-101 – 4-131

 

 

2002

A method by which livestock are rendered insensible to pain, by a single blow or gunshot, or by an electrical, chemical, or other rapid and effective.

 

Humane method" does not include the use of a manually operated hammer, sledge, or poleax during a slaughtering operation.

"Ritual slaughter" means a method of slaughter by which livestock suffer loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument in accordance with ritual requirements of a religious faith.

"Livestock" means cattle, calves, sheep, swine, horses, mules, goats, or other animals that may be used in the preparation of a meat product. 

 

"Livestock" does not include poultry or other fowl.

A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $100 for each violation. 

 

The Secretary may refuse to provide or may suspend temporarily inspection services for an establishment that violates this section with respect to the slaughter of livestock.

ME

ME ST T. 22 § 2521 - 2521-C

 

 

 

1999

Rendering animals insensible to pain by a single blow or gunshot or an electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective.

Slaughtering and handling in accordance with the ritual requirements of a religious faith that prescribes a method of slaughter whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.

Limited to “livestock” which is not defined in the section.

Not specified/no penalty given.

MI

MCL § 287.551

 

 

1962

A method whereby the animal is rendered insensible to pain by mechanical, electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective.

 

The use of a manually operated hammer, sledge or poleax is declared to be an inhumane method of slaughter within the meaning of this act.

A method in accordance with ritual requirements of any religious faith whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.

“Livestock” means cattle, calves, sheep, swine, horses, mules, goats and any other animal which can or may be used in and for the preparation of meat or meat products.

 

Any person who violates any provision of this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

 

MN

MN ST § 31.59 - 31.592

 

 

 

1961

Any method of slaughtering livestock which normally causes animals to be rendered insensible to pain by a single blow of a mechanical instrument or shot of a firearm or by chemical, or other means that are rapid and effective.

 

The use of a manually operated hammer or sledge is declared an inhumane method of slaughter.

The methods of preparation necessary to safe handling of the animals for Halal ritual slaughter, Jewish ritual slaughter and of slaughtering required by the ritual of the Islamic or Jewish faith, whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.

“Livestock" means cattle, horses, swine, sheep and goats.

A person violation the Act is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished accordingly.

NH

NH ST § 427:33 – 37

 

 

1960

Any method of slaughtering livestock which normally causes animals to be rendered insensible to pain by a single blow or shot of a mechanical instrument or by electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective.

Yes, for method of slaughtering required by the ritual of the Jewish faith.

"Livestock" means cattle, horses, swine, sheep, goats, as well as domesticated strains of buffalo, bison, llamas, alpacas, emus, ostriches, yaks, elk (cervus elephus canadensis), fallow deer (dama dama), red deer (cervus elephus), reindeer (Rangifer taradus), and other species of animals susceptible of use in the production of meat and meat products.

 

Unspecified Misdemeanor.

NJ

 NJ ST 4:22-1 et seq. 

1968

Not specified in the Act.  Provides that the State Board of Agriculture shall develop and adopt (1) standards for the humane raising, keeping, care, treatment, marketing, and sale of domestic livestock; and (2) rules and regulations governing the enforcement of those standards.

Not described, but may be in rules.

For the purposes of this act, "domestic livestock" means cattle, horses, donkeys, swine, sheep, goats, rabbits, poultry, fowl, and any other domesticated animal deemed by the State Board of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture.

No person may be cited or arrested for a first offense involving a minor or incidental violation, as defined by rules and regulations unless that person has first been issued a written warning.

OH

OH ST § 945.01 - 945.99

 

 

1965

In the case of cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine, and other livestock, all animals are rendered insensible to pain by a single blow or gunshot or an electrical, chemical, or other means that is rapid and effective.

By slaughtering in accordance with the ritual requirements of the Jewish faith or any other religious faith that prescribes a method of slaughter whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.

Cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine, and other livestock

Subject to fine not more than one hundred dollars ($100).

OR

OR ST § 603.010 - 603.992

 

 

1973

Renders each such animal insensible to pain by a single blow or gunshot or by an electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective.

Is in accordance with the ritual requirements of any religious faith that prescribes a method of slaughter whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.

Cattle, equines, sheep or swine.

Violation of ORS 603.065 (the humane slaughter law) is a Class B misdemeanor.

PA

PA ST 3 Pa.C.S.A. § 2361

 

 

 

1996

Humane methods are required, but undefined.  However, the use of a manually operated hammer, sledge or poleax by slaughterers, packers or stockyard operators during slaughtering operations is not a humane method of slaughter.

Subsection (a) shall not apply to the operator of a commercial establishment with respect to the positioning and ritual slaughter of cows, poultry and sheep until one year after the department finds that there is available at reasonable cost a ritually acceptable, practicable and humane method of handling or otherwise preparing conscious calves, poultry and sheep for slaughter.

The term livestock is undefined.

Not listed in the law, but may be provided by departmental regulations.

RI

RI ST § 4-17-1 - 4-17-7

 

 

1961

 A method through which the animal is rendered insensible to pain by mechanical, electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective.

The Jewish faith or any other religious faith through which the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain.

Cattle, cows, sheep, swine, horses, mules, goats and any other animal which can or may be used in and for the preparation of meat or meat products.

 

Subject to a fine of not more than five hundred ($500) dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than one year.

 

VT

VT ST T. 6 § 3131 – 3134

 

 

1987

A method whereby the animal is rendered insensible to pain by mechanical, electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective.

The use of a manually operated hammer, sledge, poleax or similar instrument is not a humane method within the meaning of this chapter.

A method in accordance with ritual requirements of the Jewish faith or any other religious faith whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain.

"Livestock" means cattle, calves, sheep, swine, horses, mules, goats, fallow deer, American bison and any other animal which can or may be used in and for the preparation of meat or meat products.

A person who violates this chapter shall be fined not more than $100.00 nor less than $50.00 or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both. In addition to the penalty provided above, the secretary may seek an injunction against a slaughterer

WA

West's RCWA 16.50.010 - 16.50.900

 

 

1967

A method whereby the animal is rendered insensible to pain by mechanical, electrical, chemical or other means that is rapid and effective.

 

The use of a manually operated hammer, sledge or poleaxe is declared to be an inhumane method of slaughter.

A method in accordance with the ritual requirements of any religious faith whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.

"Livestock" means cattle, calves, sheep, swine, horses, mules and goats.

A misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars or confinement in the county jail for not more than ninety days.

WV

WV ST § 19-2E-1 - 19-2E-7

 

 

1982

Livestock, before being shackled, hoisted, thrown, cast or cut must be rendered insensible to pain by a single blow, gunshot or by electrical, chemical or other means that is safe, rapid and effective.

By slaughtering in accordance with the ritual requirements of the Jewish faith or any other religious faith that prescribes a method of slaughter by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument as well as handling techniques in connection with such slaughtering

Cattle, swine, sheep or goats.

The section provides a graduating scheme of penalties for violation: 

 

 - a first offense results in a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $100 - $500.

 

- a second offense results in a misdemeanor with a fine of $500 - 1,000 and suspension of the license to do business as a slaughtering establishment suspended until the facility is in compliance.

 

 

 

 

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