Lewisburg, W.Va. -- The American Veterinary Medical Association responded to reports that workers at a large turkey farm in southeastern West Virginia treated the birds inhumanely and were videotaped doing so.
-- The American Veterinary Medical Association responded to reports that workers at a large turkey farm in southeastern West Virginia treated the birds inhumanely and were videotaped doing so.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released what it says was an undercover video of several workers abusing turkeys at Aviagen Turkeys Inc. factories in Greenbrier and Monroe counties.
The factories are part of German-based Aviagen Group, which bills itself "the world's leading poultry-breeding company" and reportedly does supply most of the turkey-breeding stock in the United States.
In the video posted on PETA's Web site, the group says Aviagen employees "stomped, punched, kicked and violently threw turkeys, hit them in the head with spray paint and pliers and struck their heads against metal scaffolding." One worker is seen ramming a broomstick down a bird's gullet and holding it in the air while shouting, "Let this be a lesson to y'all" to the rest of the birds, apparently in retaliation to a tom that had pecked him.
PETA filed criminal complaints against the workers with the sheriff's office.
On its Web site, AVMA says it "expects that the alleged abuse ... will be fully investigated. If the allegations prove true, it is our hope that immediate actions are taken against those responsible, including consideration of criminal-abuse charges."
"The people who provide America's food supply are entrusted by consumers to raise, treat and process livestock humanely," says AVMA Chief Executive Officer W. Ron DeHaven, DVM. "It is our belief that the vast majority of those who work in these settings do follow the animal-welfare guidelines established by their employers and the laws of their states. If the actions displayed by workers in the West Virginia incident are verified, the individuals responsible violated public trust and should be held accountable."
An Aviagen spokesman did not deny that the video was taken at the Lewisburg factory. The company condemns the abuse of animals in its care and will pursue its own investigation that could lead to the employees being fired, the spokesman says.