Butterball is being accused of allowing animal cruelty and neglect to take place at its turkey farms. And now a former employee has plead guilty to animal cruelty charges.
Fox News reported that Brian Douglas, a former employee at a North Carolina Butterball plant, was sented to 30 days in jail for felonious cruelty to animals and ordered to pay $550 in fines after investigators caught the abuse on video. Four other workers, who were arrested with Douglas in December 2011 during a raid, were also charged but their cases are pending.
Animal rights group Mercy For Animals conducted the investigation at a Butterball turkey facility between November and December of last year which showed considerable turkey abuse and neglect by workers.
According to butterballabuse.com, footage taken showed workers violently kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them and throwing them around in full view of management, and employees bashing in turkeys’ heads with metal bars, leaving several to suffer and die.
The site says that Butterball turkeys are selectively bred to grow large so quickly that they can’t reproduce naturally, and many wind up with bone defects, hip joint lesions, foot and leg deformities, and fatal heart attacks.
USA Today reports that Butterball said it had a "zero tolerance policy for any mistreatment of our birds or the failure to immediately report mistreatment of our birds."
ABC News reported that a veterinarian at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Dr. Sarah Mason, was suspended earlier this year and sentenced to 45 days in jail after pleading guilty to obstructing justice and obstructing a public officer when she called a friend working at Butterball before the raid.
Butterball said in February that its workers would be retrained on taking care of animals and that the company’s future actions would be audited by an outside facility.