Law enforcement officials in North Carolina are investigating claims by a Los Angeles animal rights group that turkeys being fattened up for Thanksgiving were mistreated at farms run by the Butterball company.
The Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office said it is taking seriously an undercover video shot by the group Mercy for Animals that appears to show workers at the farm kicking and throwing the live turkeys in order to get them into cages before they are sent to the slaughterhouse.
“We found people kicking and stomping on birds, and leaving birds to suffer from untreated illnesses,” said Matt Rice, director of investigations for Mercy for Animals.
In one scene, a worker explains that maggots live in open sores on some of the birds.
“We started an investigation after they brought us the information,” said Lenoir County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Chris Hill.
Sheriff’s investigators met with representatives of Mercy for Animals about two weeks ago, Hill said. Investigators viewed the video and are also reviewing documents provided by the group, he said.
When the investigation is complete, the sheriff’s office will turn the results over to the Lenoir County District Attorney, who will decide if the actions meet the criteria for felony or misdemeanor cruelty to animals, Hill said.
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