Turkey Abuse Condemned

US - Aviagen has responded quickly to the release of a video taken by the animal welfare organisation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), condemning the abuse of its turkeys and promising to take swift action against those involved in the cruelty.
calendar icon 19 November 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

In what is becoming an annual Thanksgiving rite, New York Times reports that an animal rights group on Tuesday released undercover videotapes taken at a leading poultry breeding operation, showing turkeys being cruelly treated.

The group – PETA – is asking for prosecution of workers at the Aviagen Turkeys plant in Lewisburg, West Virginia, in a complaint filed with the local sheriff's office under state laws regarding cruelty to animals.

Aviagen, which has its headquarters in Germany and describes itself as 'the world's leading poultry-breeding company', supplies most of the turkey breeding stock in the United States.

After seeing the video Tuesday, company representatives said they "condemn the abuse of any of the animals in our care and will take swift action to address these issues." They promised an investigation that could lead to the employees being fired.

Although PETA has had little luck in the past getting prosecutors to file charges against meatpacking workers, it has successfully taken undercover videotapes in many slaughterhouses. The resulting bad publicity has pushed some companies to change killing methods, retrain employees and promise to treat animals better before slaughter.

Each November, PETA tries to persuade Americans not to eat turkey.

Sometimes it uses publicity stunts, sometimes it highlights grim conditions at industrial poultry operations.

The video can be seen by clicking here. The scenes are described by New York Times as 'brutal'.

The undercover investigator, speaking in a telephone interview on Monday after he had quit his job on the plant vaccination team and moved away from the area, said he thought his co-workers did it out of boredom, for fun and because they lost their tempers.

Lesley J. Rogers, founder of the neuroscience and animal behaviour center at the University of New England in Australia, was one of four zoologists shown the tapes last week. She found them 'very disturbing' and full of behaviour that was 'totally inconsistent with accepted standards of treating poultry and looks to me like malicious infliction of pain and suffering'.

Bernard E. Rollin, a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, said the workers' actions were 'totally unacceptable' and suggested that they be removed from working with animals and prosecuted, concludes the New York Times report.

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