Call for Criminal Investigation Comes After Company’s Sixth Turkey Truck Crash

PETA Seeks Action After Workers Throw, Neglect Injured Birds Following Wreck in Henry County

For Immediate Release:
February 9, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

This morning, PETA sent a letter asking M. Andrew Nester, Henry County Commonwealth’s attorney, to investigate the actions of Monroe, North Carolina–based Circle S Ranch, Inc., and its employees on February 2, when one of its trucks hauling turkeys crashed on U.S. 220—the third such crash on the company’s record that caused turkeys to be injured and killed on the highway.

According to an eyewitness, Circle S Ranch workers didn’t arrive on the scene until nearly six hours after the crash. Their supervisor allegedly rejected repeated offers of free emergency veterinary care for the injured birds, and workers were seen roughly throwing survivors into coops, striking their heads and torsos against metal. PETA points out that such actions warrant criminal charges, as Virginia law prohibits abusing animals and depriving them of emergency veterinary treatment.

“These birds were apparently left to suffer for many hours from their wounds before they were violently flung back into metal cages and likely further injured,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling on authorities to investigate this incident and make sure that cruelty to animals is not tolerated in Henry County.”

This is far from the first deadly truck crash associated with Circle S Ranch, whose turkey-hauling trucks previously crashed in April 2013, June 2012, August 2010, February 2010, and September 2009.

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PETA’s letter to M. Andrew Nester, Henry County Commonwealth’s attorney, follows.

February 9, 2017

The Honorable M. Andrew Nester

Commonwealth’s Attorney for Henry County

Dear Mr. Nester,

We hope this letter finds you well. We’re writing to ask that your office investigate and, as appropriate, bring criminal charges against Monroe, North Carolina–based Circle S Ranch Inc. (“Circle S”) and its employees. On February 2, a witness—who is available for interviews at your request—allegedly saw Circle S workers throw turkeys and deny injured birds veterinary care near Bassett Forks.

According to news sources, Leroy Geter, 47, of Salisbury, North Carolina, crashed a truck hauling turkeys on U.S. Route 220 that day and was charged with reckless driving. When Circle S workers arrived nearly six hours later, their supervisor allegedly rejected an offer of free emergency veterinary care for the injured birds. Several workers reportedly roughly threw surviving turkeys into coops—striking the birds’ heads and torsos against metal—and heaved others onto a truck.

Virginia Code § 3.2-6570 prohibits people from ill-treating turkeys, depriving them of emergency veterinary treatment to alleviate suffering, and permitting others to abuse turkeys. None of the alleged conduct is consistent with the turkey industry’s accepted agricultural practices (attached), which require that turkeys be handled “in a humane manner” and “placed smoothly into coop[s].” The turkey industry affirms that “throwing … birds” constitutes “willful … abuse” and is not tolerated.

Last Thursday’s crash follows a June 14, 2012, incident in which a truck hauling turkeys crashed on the same road outside Ridgeway. Several witnesses reported seeing Circle S employees throwing birds against the side of a truck and striking their heads against coops. Ones who had missing limbs and internal organs protruding from their bodies were reportedly denied emergency veterinary care. On April 24, 2013, another truck loaded with Circle S turkeys ran off U.S. Route 220 in Henry County, killing hundreds of birds. PETA found that the driver’s record included a conviction for driving while impaired and while his license was revoked.

We hope you agree that the most recent allegations merit investigation and that, at the very least, Circle S must be warned that its workers may be engaging in potentially illegal behavior, which will not be tolerated in Henry County. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Dan Paden

Associate Director of Evidence Analysis

Cruelty Investigations Department

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