Former Slaughterhouse Worker Says Killing Animals Reinforced Other Violent Behavior

In an interview with the CBC, former slaughterhouse worker Scott Hoskins revealed that the violence he had taken part in at work had led to other violent behavior.

Hoskins said he had first started working in a chicken slaughterhouse at 20 years old. He started out in the "boning" department, removing a specific bone from a dead chicken every three seconds. He was soon transferred to the kill floor, first hanging live chickens on shackles, then serving as “kill backup.”

“It goes so fast that there is no connection to what the chickens are experiencing,” Hoskins says. When chickens escaped or were too small for the machinery, Hoskins would have to kill the birds himself, manually breaking their necks or cutting their throats. He says, "Something here wasn't quite as comfortable as just quickly grabbing a chicken and hanging it on a shackle."

Looking back, Hoskins believes that the violence he took part in at work led to the destruction of his personal life. He didn’t have a violent past, but soon after taking the job at the slaughterhouse, he became what he describes as aggressive and angry. "There was a lot of alcohol consumption, regularly and excessively,” he says. He spent his workdays killing animals, and that violence carried over into his personal life.

But Hoskins is lucky. His life is now vastly different. Now in his early 40s, he’s a vegan activist and attends vigils for animals on their way to slaughter. He uses his experience to educate others about the horrors of factory farming.

Countless reports have highlighted the dangerous and unsanitary conditions workers face at factory farms and slaughterhouses. From being subjected to many workplace hazards to being denied breaks, workers are often mistreated and exploited. They commonly sustain severe injuries and suffer from respiratory illnesses and infections by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

In addition to its physical dangers, the work at factory farms and slaughterhouses often leads to psychological trauma. According to PTSD Journal, many factory farm and slaughterhouse workers must emotionally disconnect from their work to cope with the daily abuse and killing of animals. This emotional dissonance often leads to domestic violence, social withdrawal, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and PTSD. A 2009 study by criminologist Amy Fitzgerald found that, in comparison with other industries, slaughterhouse employment increased total arrest rates, including arrests for violent crimes and rape.

Workers generally have little power over how animals are treated. Extreme confinement, mutilations without painkillers, and ruthless slaughter are not the fault of low-level employees.

While it’s certainly true that animals pay the ultimate price, farmworkers are oppressed by the same system that values profit over all else.

You can show your support of farmworkers and farmed animals by boycotting the industry that exploits them. Click here to get started.