Humane Society of the United States President Wayne Pacelle now admits that the group held the Hallmark/Westland animal-handling information from USDA on purpose. Pacelle said the effort needed public outrage to pressure the agency into strong action. HSUS had the video in hand for more than five weeks before turning it over to the San Bernadino County, Calif., district attorney.
"We specifically did not give this information much in advance to USDA," Pacelle told Meatingplace.com in an interview.
Pacelle called a senior USDA officials just before releasing the now famous video tape. "If it had been given to USDA in advance and they excused the behavior and shut them down for a half a day or a day … that would have been an unacceptable outcome," he said.
According to Pacelle, USDA's "poor record of previous investigations" and the fact that USDA doesn't have criminal authority in animal abuse cases, were additional reasons for the delay.
There is some question whether HSUS was told not to inform USDA about the Hallmark/Westland concerns. According to the area's Assistant District Attorney for Criminal Operations, officials advised HSUS to talk to USDA early on in the investigation.
Pacelle would not say whether HSUS has similar investigations in the works.
Meanwhile, two inspectors at the plant have suspended-- a floor inspector and a veterinarian.