All too often even the most egregious cases of animal abuse go without any substantial punishment. This seems even more true when the victim is a “food” animal. However, I saw some good news today that gives me some hope that times may be changing (slowly, but changing nonetheless).
Around Thanksgiving last year, People for the Ethical Treatement of Animals (PETA) released undercover video footage of Aviagen Turkeys Inc. slaughterhouse employees abusing live turkeys. I am happy to report that last week three of those workers were indicted on 19 counts of animal abuse, 11 of them felony charges that could carry significant jail time. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Each felony charge is punishable by up to five years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. The misdemeanor charges carry possible sentences of six months and up to $2,000 in fines.” These punishments are unusually harsh in a farm animal abuse case, but given the severity of the abuse, I think they are totally appropriate. Until people like this are held accountable for their actions and severe punishments are the norm, the abuse will continue. Companies engaged in any kind of animal production or handling need to make it painfully clear that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated and our legal system needs to punish people accordingly when such cases do arise. I am glad that in this case it seems that the courts are taking this abuse seriously.
I met a few turkeys when I visited Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen. Having heard my whole life how stupid turkeys are, I was surprised to see that they’re actually quite bright animals, and that they, like pigs, cows, dogs, and other animals, have rich emotional lives. They are sweet, kind animals, and I am so happy I got to meet some of them. It reinforced even more why I choose not to eat them. Look at how beautiful they are!