For Immediate Release:
October 19, 2023
Brittney Williams 202-483-7382
Arcadia, La. – Following a just-released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report revealing that more than 1,800 chickens were burned to death or severely injured inside two trailers that caught fire while being hauled to the House of Raeford Farms slaughterhouse in Arcadia, PETA sent a letter to District Attorney Daniel W. Newell calling on him to investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against those responsible.
According to the report, on April 12 a trailer heading to House of Raeford Farms caught fire after a tire burst, causing 1,320 chickens to die or sustain injuries. After the truck arrived at the slaughterhouse, workers extinguished the fire and broke the necks of live birds who had been exposed to smoke and flames. On March 27, approximately 500 chickens being hauled to the slaughterhouse were killed or injured after a trailer tire burst. The truck driver failed to pull over and the brake lines became damaged, leading to brake failure and a fire.
“Nearly 2,000 birds, each one an individual capable of feeling pain and fear, suffered and died in terror and agony because flames engulfed two trucks bound for the same slaughterhouse,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA urges anyone who still eats chickens to spare a thought for the suffering of these vulnerable birds and go vegan.”
PETA is pursuing charges under state law because federal officials haven’t prosecuted any inspected slaughterhouses for acts of abuse since at least 2007.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Newell follows.
October 19, 2023
The Honorable Daniel W. Newell
Second Judicial District
Dear Mr. Newell:
I’m writing to request that your office (and a law-enforcement agency, as necessary) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against the individuals responsible for the suffering of more than 1,800 chickens who were burned to death or severely injured while being hauled on trailers that caught fire to House of Raeford Farms, located at 3867 Second St. in Arcadia. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in a report that the agency recently made available to the public. (See the attached table.)
According to the reports, on March 27, “approximately 500 chickens perished or were injured due to a trailer fire that occurred. … [House of Raeford] management stated that the front right trailer tire burst, and the truck driver failed to pull to the side of the road.” Then, on April 12, “a trailer carrying cages of live chickens caught fire after a trailer tire burst while traveling the interstate. … The trailer was driven to [House of Raeford] … and approximately 1,320 chickens perished or suffered smoke and fire injuries as a result of the fire.”
This conduct does not represent the otherwise-exempt “standard transportation … of agriculture products” and thus may violate LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 14:102.1(A)(1)(f), which prohibits carrying “a living animal in … a vehicle … in a cruel or inhumane manner” with criminal negligence.
Please note that the FSIS’ report carries no criminal or civil penalties and does not preempt criminal liability under state law for acts of cruelty to animals. Given that the FSIS hasn’t initiated a criminal prosecution of a licensed slaughterhouse for inhumane handling since at least 2007, charges under state law are these victims’ only chance at a measure of justice.
Thank you for your time and your consideration of this important matter.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis
Cruelty Investigations Department