Feds See Pilgrim’s Pride Worker Throw, Kill Bird; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
April 14, 2021

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Ellijay, Ga.

Armed with a damning U.S. Department of Agriculture report documenting that a federal inspector saw a worker at a Pilgrim’s Pride slaughterhouse in Ellijay “forcefully” throw a live chicken into a barrier, causing the bird to fall and “gasp for air” before dying, PETA sent a letter this morning to Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee, asking her to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the worker.

“If someone threw a puppy into a barrier so forcefully that she gasped and died, the culprit would face cruelty charges,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation and urging anyone disturbed by this chicken’s agonizing death to help prevent animals from being sent to slaughterhouses in the first place by going vegan.”

The federal report—which PETA just obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request—notes 11 more violations at other Pilgrim’s Pride slaughterhouses across the country, including one in Canton, where an agent found a live chicken in a barrel of dead birds.

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 or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Sosebee follows.

April 14, 2021

The Honorable B. Alison Sosebee

District Attorney

Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Dear Ms. Sosebee:

I’m writing to request that your office (and the local law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against the Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation worker responsible for fatally hurling a chicken against a barrier on April 9, 2020, at the company’s slaughterhouse located at 125 Industrial Blvd. in Ellijay. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which PETA just obtained via a public records request.

According to the report, a federal veterinarian saw the worker “forcefully” throw the “small live bird” into a barrier behind him, which caused the barrier to vibrate. The federal agent heard a “thud” when the bird struck the surface, then saw the bird fall to a grate, flap his or her wings, and begin “to gasp for air” before dying. The FSIS official notes that he or she had “discussed the issue of … employees forcefully throwing” chickens many times before with Pilgrim’s Pride management.

This conduct may violate Georgia Code § 16-12-4 (d) (1). The action from FSIS shows that this egregious cruelty doesn’t constitute agricultural or food-processing practices that are permitted under federal or state law, which are otherwise exempt from prosecution. Importantly, FSIS action doesn’t preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.

Please let me know if I can assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

Cruelty Investigations Department

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