Butterball accused of abusing turkeys in 5 North Carolina plants - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Butterball accused of abusing turkeys in 5 North Carolina plants

PHOTO:  YouTube pic from Mercy For Animals PHOTO: YouTube pic from Mercy For Animals

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT)- Butterball is again accused of abusing turkeys, just one week before Thanksgiving.

The animal advocacy group, Mercy For Animals, says it has undercover footage of Butterball employees in North Carolina kicking, dragging and throwing turkeys at five facilities across four counties.  On top of that, the agency says the birds had open wounds on them.  Mercy For Animals said abuse happened at Butterball plants in Duplin, Lenoir, Onslow and Sampson Counties during the month of October.

"We think people have a right to know where their food comes from and how animals on factory farms are treated," said Matt Rice, the Director of Investigations for Mercy For Animals. 

Butterball is headquartered in North Carolina and is one of the largest distributors of turkeys in the world. 

In a statement, Butterball said it is aware of the new video and takes allegations of animal mistreatment very seriously.  "We have a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse.  Any employee found to have violated our animal care and well-being guidelines, as well as any employee who witnessed abuse and failed to report it, will be terminated," the statement went on to say.

The employees under scrutiny are reportedly suspended from their jobs.

In 2011, Mercy For Animals launched another investigation into a plant in Hoke County.  State officials raided the facility and slapped five people with felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.

"Every time I see one of these videos from these investigations, I'm shocked," said Rice.  "I've been doing this for several years here, and I thought I'd seen it all, but every time I'm shocked by the level of violence and cruelty that's happening at these facilities." 

The advocacy group has sent a legal complaint to law enforcement, and state officials are looking into the allegations.

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