For Immediate Release
Los Angeles: In an anonymous communique obtained by the North American Animal Liberation Press Office today, liberation activists with the Animal Rights Militia in Vermont claim to have liberated 20 turkeys, whose deaths were imminent. The group also claims to have slashed the tires of a mobile abattoir while a driver smoked in the cab.
The anonymous communique reads in full:
During the early morning hours of November 14th, members of VT ARM liberated 20 turkeys that had been cruelly forced into a small pen without shelter. The pen had been set up along side a road as a marketing ploy. The decision to liberate the turkeys was made after it was learned that they were to be murdered that morning. It took the extraction team less than 5 minutes to breach the fence and liberate the turkeys. As a parting gift members of ARM slashed the tires of the mobile slaughter house, which had been parked less then 20 meters away, while the drive sat in the front seat smoking. Uncle Sam spent thousands training us to be the best and now those who think they can profit off the suffering of animals will learn that we are. We will use whatever means necessary to liberate animals, prevent cruelty and punish those who commit acts of cruelty. To the Bushway criminals, Happy Thanksgiving.
The communique refers in its last line to the Bushway Packing slaughter plant, which was shuttered by USDA officials earlier this year after an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States revealed day-old calves being kicked, beaten, and electrically shocked as they struggle in vain to stand and workers angrily cursing as the tormented animals collapse to the ground. Christopher Gaudette, 37, an employee of the now-closed plant in Grand Isle, entered the plea to a felony count of animal cruelty after being accused of excessively shocking a downed calf, throwing a calf and pouring water on one and then shocking it. He received merely a suspended sentence of one to three years, with 30 days to serve on a state work crew, while co-owner of Bushway, Frank Perretta, was fined $2,000 and given a suspended sentence of up to one year after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge in October.
Commercially-raised turkeys are selectively bred to grow extremely large and fast, painfully de-beaked and de-toed, raised in crowded, filthy conditions, and fed diets designed to make them gain more weight. Over a quarter billion turkeys are hatched in the U.S. annually. These birds are typically crowded by the thousands into huge, factory-like warehouses where they can barely move. Shortly after hatching, turkeys have the ends of their beaks cut off, and also have the ends of their toes clipped off, mutilations performed without anesthesia, ostensibly to reduce injuries that result when stressed birds are driven to fighting.
Similar to broiler chickens, factory-farmed turkeys are prone to heart disease and leg injuries as a consequence of their grossly-overweight bodies. An industry journal laments that:
Turkeys have been bred to grow faster and heavier but their skeletons haven’t kept pace, which causes ‘cowboy legs’. Commonly, the turkeys have problems standing and fall and are trampled on or seek refuge under feeders, leading to bruises and downgradings as well as culled or killed birds.
Turkeys are taken to the slaughterhouse in crates stacked on the backs of open trucks. During transport, the birds are not protected from weather conditions, and a percentage of the birds are expected to die en route. Birds freeze to death in winter, or die from heat stress and suffocation in warm weather. It is â€ocheaperâ€? for the industry to transport the birds in open crates without adequate protection, despite high mortality rates. Upon arrival at the slaughterhouse, the birds are either pulled individually from their crates, or the crates are lifted off the truck, often with a crane or forklift, and the birds are dumped onto a conveyor belt. As the birds are unloaded, some miss the conveyor belt and fall onto the ground. Slaughterhouse workers intent upon ‘processing’ thousands of birds every hour have neither the time nor the inclination to pick up individuals who fall through the cracks, and these birds suffer grim deaths. Some die after being crushed by machinery or vehicles operating near the unloading area, while others may die of starvation or exposure days, or even weeks, later.
Inside the slaughterhouse, turkey suffer an equally gruesome fate. Upon entering the facility, fully conscious birds are hung by their feet from metal shackles on a moving rail. Although poultry are specifically excluded from the federal Humane Slaughter Act (which requires that animals be stunned before they are slaughtered), many slaughterplants first stun the birds in an electrified water bath in order to immobilize them and expedite assembly line killing.
However, stunning procedures are not monitored, and they are often inadequate; the result is that while birds are immobilized after stunning, they are still capable of feeling pain, and many emerge from the stunning tank still conscious.