For Immediate Release:
October 23, 2023
Sara Groves 202-483-7382
Barry County, Mo. – Following a just-released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report revealing that thousands of chickens died en route to the George’s Processing slaughterhouse during extreme heat, PETA sent a letter this morning to Barry County Prosecuting Attorney Amy L. Boxx calling on her to investigate and file appropriate criminal charges against those responsible.
According to the report, the National Weather Service predicted “high heat values and heat indexes between 100°F-109°F beginning in the afternoon” of June 28. Despite this, the birds were loaded onto two trailers and hauled to George’s, where an “alarming” 54% of them were found dead on arrival. The “thousands” of victims’ remains “overwhelmed” George’s staff, who began piling them on the floor “in numbers too numerous to count.” The survivors were “panting and appeared stressed,” and the inspector observed two live chickens buried under piles of dead ones.
Chickens are seen on a crowded trailer. Photo: PETA
“Workers ignored dangerous heat warnings and crammed thousands of chickens onto sweltering, crowded trailers, where they baked to death in agony,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of the victims and urges everyone to go vegan to prevent this cruelty.”
The group 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, and offers a free vegan starter kit on its website. 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 Boxx follows.
October 23, 2023
The Honorable Amy L. Boxx
Barry County Prosecuting Attorney
Dear Ms. Boxx:
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 thousands of chickens who died while being hauled in extreme heat on June 28 to George’s Processing Inc., located at 9066 State Hwy. W near Cassville. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in a report that the agency recently made available to the public. (See the attached table.)
According to the report, the National Weather Service—“well in advance of the day in question”—predicted “high heat values and heat indexes between 100°F–109°F beginning in the afternoon” of June 28. Despite this, the birds were loaded onto two trailers and hauled to George’s, where an “alarming” 54% of them were found dead on arrival. The “thousands” of victims’ remains “overwhelmed” George’s staff, as a federal inspector documented “large piles of dead-on arrival … birds on the floor in numbers too numerous to count.” The survivors were “panting and appeared stressed.”
This conduct does not represent the otherwise exempt “normal or accepted practices of animal husbandry” and thus may violate MO Rev Stat § 578.009.1(1), which prohibits failing to provide any animal with “normal and prudent attention to the [animal’s] needs … as necessary to maintain good health.”
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 consideration.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis
Cruelty Investigations Department