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INVESTIGATION: ‘Workers’ charged with horrific animal cruelty at turkey farms

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A worker picked up one of these birds and put her between his legs. Holding her by her injured neck, he mimicked masturbation then dropped her on the floor, kicked her, and left her in agony to die.

MICHAEL RUBINKAM: Eleven people working for one of the nation’s leading turkey producers have been charged with animal cruelty in Pennsylvania after state police said they were caught on video kicking, stomping and beating turkeys at several farms. The workers were responsible for capturing and crating turkeys destined for slaughter, said Pennsylvania State Police .

Police launched the probe in August 2021 in response to a complaint from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The animal rights group said it sent an undercover investigator to Plainville Farms to evaluate the marketing claims of a third-party labeling program that had designated Plainville as “animal welfare certified.”

The PETA investigator worked on a Plainville Farms crew for about three weeks and captured graphic video that appeared to show workers mistreating the birds. “Every night, at every farm the crews worked at, these men threw turkeys, viciously kicked and stomped on them, and killed them in the most rampant, top-to-bottom display of cruelty to farmed animals we’ve ever seen,” Dan Paden, a PETA vice president, said in a phone interview.

The mistreatment took place at farms in Chester, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Perry and Union counties, police said. A total of 139 charges were filed, including six felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and 76 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. PETA said it’s unaware of a cruelty-to-livestock case involving more criminal counts…

The undercover PETA investigator, who was hired by a staffing agency, documented instances in which co-workers stomped and kicked turkeys, clubbed them with rods, and picked them up by the heads and violently shook them, according to a brief video compilation released by PETA. The video appeared to show dead turkeys and injured turkeys writhing on the floor.

The PETA investigator did not take part in the abuse — gently herding the birds instead — and was berated for taking too long, Paden said. “He was told repeatedly, ‘There’s not time for that, and if that’s how you’re going to do this, you need to find a different job,’” Paden said…

Plainville continues to advertise its turkeys as “humanely raised” in a “stress-free environment,” even after the company was suspended from an animal welfare and labeling program run by Global Animal Partnership. Its turkey products come with an “Earthwise” seal — which is not an independent labeling program, but a term Plainville trademarked in 2008.

PETA has asked the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit Plainville from “using false or misleading claims in advertising its turkey products.” An FTC spokesperson declined comment on whether the agency is investigating. SOURCE…

According to PETA’s undercover investigation:

PETA’s investigator observed crews of turkey catchers, who spend all night catching thousands of turkeys in dusty, crowded sheds and slamming them into metal coops on trucks that haul them to slaughter. Every night, at every farm the crews worked at, PETA’s investigator saw catchers repeatedly and viciously kick and stomp on dozens of turkeys, many of them sick, injured, weak, or just too lame to stand up…

One crew position is even called “kick”—where the worker is expected to kick turkeys who pass by that point! Workers grab turkeys—who each weigh more than 40 pounds—by the neck or by a single, fragile wing, pick them up, and throw them around. They hurl the birds at each other and at other turkeys as if it’s a game. One held a garbage bag open like a basketball hoop to toss a bird into. The men punch and slap the turkeys. One man hit them with a heavy metal rod…

A worker picked up one of these birds and put her between his legs. Holding her by her injured neck, he mimicked masturbation then dropped her on the floor, kicked her, and left her to die. There she lay in agony, next to another hen tossed aside like garbage. A few nights later, the same worker put another hen between his legs and thrust his pelvis back and forth. SOURCE…

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