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ARCHIVE - No Charges For Sadistic Cruelty To Chickens

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Ginny Conley, Acting Executive Director
West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute
90 MacCorkle Ave. S.W., Ste. 202
South Charleston, WV 25303
ph: 304-558-3348; fax: 304-558-3360

ATTN: Governor Bob Wise, Governor-Elect Joe Manchin
Office of the Governor
State Capitol Complex, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E.
Charleston, WV 25305
ph (outside West Virginia): 304-558-2000; (within West Virginia) 1-888-438-2731
fax: 304-558-2722; email:

Dear Ms. Conley, Governor Wise and Governor-Elect Manchin:

I am stunned the head of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute concluded “chickens in a slaughterhouse” do not deserve immunity from cruelty. I suspect Ms. Conley's decision to not file criminal charges against the Pilgrim's Pride workers videotaped brutally torturing chickens last July stems from a lack of knowledge.

Chickens are not protected under the Humane Slaughter Act. There are no federal or state rules regulating humane poultry slaughter. Thus, Ms. Conley's rationalization that abuse inside Pilgrim's Pride, a major supplier to KFC restaurants, “needs to be handled more on a regulatory end than prosecuting someone criminally,” is implausible.

On the other hand, the deliberate violence perpetrated against these birds clearly violates the state's cruelty-to- animals statute. I respectfully ask Ms. Conley to file felony animal cruelty charges and seek maximum fines and jail time.

I also call upon West Virginia's governor and governor-elect to fulfill the presiding judge's request to appoint a special prosecutor in this case. Please exercise your authority to assure a prosecutor is found before the deadline for filing charges expires.

Inside the Moorefield, West Virginia plant, workers kicked and crushed chickens. They smashed birds against floors and walls and tore beaks from their faces. They decapitated live birds by twisting off their heads. They spat tobacco into the chickens' eyes and mouths and spray-painted their faces. Hopefully, no one involved in this case believes the torment documented during the investigation is part of routine “animal husbandry.”

If the victims had been dogs or cats, there would be no debate over whether to file felony charges. Yet when 11 former employees of Pilgrim's Pride sadistically abuse domestic fowl—who share the same neurophysiological makeup and complex nervous system as all mammals—they are pardoned from the state's cruelty-to-animals statute.

These birds suffered no differently than companion animals. Until agribusiness initiates sweeping welfare reforms, justice for mistreated farmed animals must transpire in the courtroom. This case plainly warrants rigorous prosecution.

Thank you,

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