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Victory: First-Ever Felony Charges of Cruelty to Factory-Farmed Birds

Written by PETA | February 5, 2009

In a huge victory for animals, a grand jury has issued 19 indictments for cruelty to animals against three former employees of Aviagen Turkeys, Inc. And it gets better—11 of the indictments are on felony charges. This marks the first time in U.S. history that factory-farm employees have faced felony cruelty-to-animals charges for abusing birds.

These indictments are the result of PETA’s undercover investigation at Aviagen’s factory farms in West Virginia, which uncovered workers stomping, kicking, throwing, and killing turkeys in unimaginably cruel ways. Our investigator’s video footage was seen by the West Virginia State Police, whose investigator then conducted his own prompt and thorough investigation, leading to these indictments in Greenbrier County. Next stop: Monroe County, where we anticipate additional charges to be filed for similar acts committed there.

It’s great to see the authorities take this case seriously. But Aviagen itself? Not so much.

As you may recall, a couple of weeks back, a whistleblower told us that some of the turkey torturers were still employed by Aviagen, despite the company’s promise to fire all the workers caught violating its purported animal-welfare policies. PETA’s letter to the company president about this has gone unanswered. And Aviagen has refused to give any specific details about the actions it claims to have taken. So, as far as we can tell, Aviagen hasn’t yet implemented even one of the seven improvements we suggested to them. If you’re as riled about this as we are, please take a minute to ask Aviagen executives to stop sitting on their thumbs and take some specific steps toward preventing the continued torture of birds in the company’s sheds.

Bet these indictments have got them sitting up and paying attention, though. And not just at Aviagen (I’m looking at you, Butterball, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Tyson). And I suspect the charges might make those drumsticks a little harder for some folks to swallow too.

Written by Jeff Mackey

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  • Letty says:

    Thank you Peta and all of you supporters out there!! Fighting for animals’ rights and farm animals cruelty is not easy. People including my friends and family still look at me like I am a crazy fan for trying to find vegan products and writing to companies to find out if they are cruelty free.most my friends and family are from Latin American origin. Changing the way people are used to seeing and treating animals has to change everywhere little by little.I am doing my small part hoping that someday rats and mice are respected and seen as the cute animals they are and not like nasty pests. Gracias!

  • Woman King says:

    I was so excited when I saw this article I’ve been scratching my head about this for a long time… How come the people on animal planet shows get arrested etc. for leaving a dog outside with a short chain and dirty water I know I know it’s worse than that but “food” animals are severely tortured not just neglected and NOTHING happens!?

  • ali says:

    finally the government is taking action