Written by PETA
Wherever Sarah Silverman goes, she seems to leave a stream of puzzled people in her wake. Are she and longtime beau, Jimmy Kimmel, on or off today? Is she really getting it on with Matt Damon? Is she Tom Selleck's long-lost sister?
But there is one thing that Sarah makes very clear: She doesn't eat meat. In the November 2009 issue of Marie Claire, the comedian/actor said the following:
"When I was 9 or 10 years old, my dad took me over to a neighboring farm to help get stuff for the meal. The farmer, Vic, told me to look at all the turkeys and pick one out. I saw a cute one with a silly walk and cried, 'Him!' Before my pointing finger had even dropped to my side, Vic had grabbed the turkey by the neck and slit [the animal's] throat. Blood and feathers went flying. I had sentenced that turkey to death! Up until then, I didn't know where meat came from—and I've been a vegetarian ever since."
Consider that the sight of one turkey being killed for Thanksgiving Day dinner years ago was enough to convince Sarah to go vegetarian. Then imagine how you can help lower the body count this Thanksgiving by sharing information about Butterball's cruelty to millions of turkeys with each and every meat-eater you know.
Written by Karin Bennett
As horrible as the findings were, our undercover investigation at Aviagen has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving—giving out indictments to those we caught on video abusing animals, that is.
Quick review: A PETA investigator went undercover on Aviagen's turkey factory farms in West Virginia and gathered evidence that workers broke turkeys' necks, stomped on their heads, and shoved feces and feed into turkeys' mouths. This evidence led to the first-ever indictments for felony cruelty-to-animals charges for abusing birds, and the first-ever cruelty convictions of turkey factory-farm workers.
Aviagen's farms are spread out over multiple counties in West Virginia, which means that workers were subject to prosecution in each county where they abused or neglected these intelligent, sensitive birds. The first indictments were handed down in Greenbrier County, and now further felony indictments have been issued in Monroe County against Walter Hambrick and Scott White. White was already convicted in Greenbrier County of the cruelty he committed there, and he went to jail. Hambrick—whose charges in Greenbrier County are still pending—now faces three more felonies just a few minutes down the road.
Of course, it's easy as (eggless, nondairy) pie to stop contributing to factory farm and slaughterhouse cruelty—like the kind at Aviagen, Belcross, AgriProcessors, Pilgrim's Pride, and too many others to mention—simply by going vegetarian.
Written by Jeff Mackey
Late last year, some factory-farm employees got their pink slips from Aviagen Turkeys, Inc. in response to PETA's undercover investigation, which documented that workers were breaking turkeys' necks, stomping on their heads, and shoving feces and feed into turkeys' mouths.
Then, in February, a grand jury handed down 19 indictments, including 11 felony charges, against three former Aviagen workers, marking the first time in U.S. history that factory-farm employees have faced felony cruelty-to-animals charges for abusing birds.
Fast forward: Two of the three ex-employees, Scott Alvin White and Edward Eric Gwinn, recently pleaded guilty to cruelty charges. On June 8, White was sentenced to serve one year in jail—the maximum period permitted by law! Today, Gwinn was sentenced to serve six months' home confinement—the maximum period permitted by law—on each count, concurrently, and is banned from living with, owning, and working with animals for five years. The case against the third ex-employee, Walter Lee Hambrick, is pending.
Can't get enough? In September, a grand jury in neighboring Monroe County, West Virginia, may well issue further felony indictments against White and Hambrick.
These historic victories by no means even the score for the turkeys who were punched and thrown or the many other birds who suffered when they were forced to watch as other turkeys were abused at Aviagen. After watching our undercover video, animal behavior expert Dr. Lesley J. Rogers stated, "It is now known that when social animals, like turkeys, see and hear other members of their species under stress or suffering physical injury, their levels of stress become elevated. Hence, the behavioural stress is widespread in the birds in the vicinity of those that have been injured and/or handled roughly."
Still, these convictions will remind workers on other factory farms that if they don't clean up their acts, PETA investigators (and the whistleblowers who tip us off) will have their eyes on them.
In a huge victory for animals, a grand jury has issued 19 indictments for cruelty to animals against three former employees of Aviagen Turkeys, Inc. And it gets better—11 of the indictments are on felony charges. This marks the first time in U.S. history that factory-farm employees have faced felony cruelty-to-animals charges for abusing birds.
These indictments are the result of PETA's undercover investigation at Aviagen's factory farms in West Virginia, which uncovered workers stomping, kicking, throwing, and killing turkeys in unimaginably cruel ways. Our investigator's video footage was seen by the West Virginia State Police, whose investigator then conducted his own prompt and thorough investigation, leading to these indictments in Greenbrier County. Next stop: Monroe County, where we anticipate additional charges to be filed for similar acts committed there.
It's great to see the authorities take this case seriously. But Aviagen itself? Not so much.
As you may recall, a couple of weeks back, a whistleblower told us that some of the turkey torturers were still employed by Aviagen, despite the company's promise to fire all the workers caught violating its purported animal-welfare policies. PETA's letter to the company president about this has gone unanswered. And Aviagen has refused to give any specific details about the actions it claims to have taken. So, as far as we can tell, Aviagen hasn't yet implemented even one of the seven improvements we suggested to them. If you're as riled about this as we are, please take a minute to ask Aviagen executives to stop sitting on their thumbs and take some specific steps toward preventing the continued torture of birds in the company's sheds.
Bet these indictments have got them sitting up and paying attention, though. And not just at Aviagen (I'm looking at you, Butterball, Pilgrim's Pride, and Tyson). And I suspect the charges might make those drumsticks a little harder for some folks to swallow too.
You probably remember when we unveiled our undercover investigation of Aviagen Turkeys, Inc., right before Thanksgiving. (Those horrifying images are hard to forget.) After seeing our video footage, Aviagen claimed to be working on improvements to its animal welfare policies and promised to fire all workers who were caught violating them.
However, Aviagen has not, to PETA's knowledge, implemented any of PETA's seven recommendations for making its turkeys less miserable. On top of that, we got a call 10 days ago from a whistleblower who let us know that at least three of the workers who were videotaped stomping, kicking, throwing, and maliciously killing turkeys are still being paid to handle live turkeys on Aviagen's farms. I'd really like to say that I'm shocked, but after seeing what happens on Aviagen's dark and dusty factory farms, I don't think there's anything the company could do that would surprise me.
We've pumped a letter out to Aviagen president Jihad Douglas demanding to know why these workers are still on the company's payroll two months after PETA representatives personally provided company officials with our videotape as well as what, if any, steps the company has taken to stop cruelty to animals on its farms. Aviagen, since you seem to have no brilliant plans of your own to stop the abuse of turkeys on your factory farms, I suggest that you implement our seven-point-plan for animal welfare improvements as soon as possible.
Oh, and one more thing: Fire those workers … now!
Written by Liz Graffeo
Last week—just in time to give the turkeys who are still suffering at Aviagen something small to be thankful for—Aviagen Turkeys, Inc., announced that it had terminated all the employees who were found to have violated Aviagen's animal welfare standards. (I hope the guys who stomped on turkeys' heads were the first to go.)
This is a great, although small, step for the turkeys who are still tightly trapped in Aviagen's dark, dusty sheds—at the very least, they won't have to suffer at those individuals' hands or under their watch any longer. So far, however, Aviagen seems to have passed on the opportunity to press for a criminal investigation and prosecution of the dismissed workers. If the executives at Aviagen were really serious about cracking down on cruelty to animals, wouldn't they join us in asking officials to prosecute these individuals?
Also, Aviagen has announced that it has "outlined a series of actions" that will improve its "existing welfare guidelines" and "ensure [that] violations do not occur in [the] future." That sounds nice—but based on what the company's "existing welfare guidelines" failed to prevent, I think I'd feel a little more comfortable with some specifics, don't you? Gosh, it sure would be nice if somebody were to provide Aviagen with a list of specific steps to take to improve animal welfare—oh wait … we did.
Please help by writing a polite letter to Aviagen asking the company to implement PETA's Seven-Point Animal Welfare Plan and to call on officials to prosecute any employees—past, present or future—who abuse or neglect animals. Aviagen has made some small progress already—let's hope it continues its much-needed reforms.
Written by Amanda Schinke
Happy Thanksgiving! Hope your Tofurky was excellent—I know mine was. Since it's a holiday and all, we've got a little something for you. Check out our fantastic Thanksgiving e-card below, and enjoy the rest of your day. (And don't forget … tomorrow is Fur-Free Friday!)
Written by Christine Doré
In this letter dispatched to the real President Bush, PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk asks him to send this year's "pardoned" turkeys to a proper Washington, D.C.–area sanctuary rather than to a theme park or working farm, where pardoned turkeys are traditionally sent and where they usually die from their painful genetic defects within the first year—or even within days of arrival.
You've probably guessed that pardoned turkeys aren't as "blessed" as this tradition hints at. Like all factory-farmed turkeys, the birds are pumped full of drugs and bred to grow so large so fast that their little legs aren't able to support their massive, unnatural size. As a result, the birds suffer crippling injuries and painful deformities—serious and sometimes fatal conditions that theme parks and working farms don't handle appropriately. Footage released earlier this month from an undercover investigation at a turkey factory farm in West Virginia shows the tremendous stress put on these birds' bodies and the pure hell these animals are put through.
So, President Bush, please give these birds a fighting chance rather than a sad show for the nation, and in return, we'll send you and your family a delicious cruelty-free Thanksgiving meal including Tofurky, meat-free stuffing, and all-American vegan apple pie with vanilla soy ice cream. Oh, and as a bonus, we'll try to forget some of your pronunciation slips and speech mishaps through the years. After all, Thanksgiving is about forgiveness and giving thanks.
Posted by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Did Sarah Palin's recent interview in front of a turkey-slaughter operation almost cause you to lose your lunch? If so, you're not alone. Even conservative pundit Joe Scarborough says he may well skip the bird this year. With Thanksgiving upon us, here without further ado are PETA's top 10 reasons to pardon a turkey this holiday season:
10. If you wouldn't eat your cat, you shouldn't eat a turkey. As poultry scientist Tom Savage says, "I've always viewed turkeys as smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings. The 'dumb' tag simply doesn't fit." They're as interesting and have personalities every bit as developed as those of any dog or cat.
When they're not forced to live on filthy factory farms, turkeys spend their days caring for their young, building nests, foraging for food, taking dust baths, preening themselves, and roosting high in trees. These social, playful birds relish having their feathers stroked and like to chirp, cluck, and gobble along to their favorite tunes.
9. Factory farms deny turkeys everything that is natural and important to them. Ben Franklin called turkeys "true American originals." He had tremendous respect for their resourcefulness, agility, and beauty. In nature, turkeys can fly 55 miles an hour, run 25 miles an hour, and live up to four years. Yet turkeys raised for food are killed when they are only 5 or 6 months old. During their short lives, they will be denied even the simplest pleasures, such as running, building nests, and raising their young.
8. Turkey consumption might kill you. Turkey flesh is brimming with fat and cholesterol. Just one homemade patty of ground, cooked turkey meat contains a whopping 244 mg of cholesterol, and half of its calories come from fat. Turkey flesh is also frequently tainted with salmonella, campylobacter bacteria, and other contaminants. And a vegan meal won't leave you sprawled on the couch, belt buckle undone, barely able to move.
7. You may stave off bird flu apocalypse. Current factory-farm conditions are breeding grounds for disease. Turkeys are drugged and bred to grow so quickly that many become crippled and die from dehydration. Cooking meat should kill the bird flu virus, but it can be left behind on cutting boards and utensils and spread through something else you're eating.
6. Don't support their crack habit. Dosing turkeys with antibiotics to stimulate their growth and to keep them alive in filthy, disease-ridden conditions that would otherwise kill them poses even more risks for people who eat them. Leading health organizations—including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association—have warned that the factory farming industry is possibly creating long-term risks to human health through the spread of antibiotic-resistant supergerms. That's why the use of drugs to promote growth in animals used for food has been banned for many years in Europe.
5. There are healthy, humane alternatives. Everyone can give thanks for animal-friendly holiday meals such as Tofurky, Celebration Roast, and Garden Protein's new Veggie Turkey Breast With Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing. PETA's scrumptious holiday recipes will please every palate and make it easier to give up the giblets.
4. Eating birds supports cruelty to animals.When the time comes for slaughter, turkeys are thrown into transport trucks. At the slaughterhouse, they are hung upside-down and their heads are dragged through an electrified "stunning tank," which immobilizes them but does not kill them. Many birds dodge the tank and are still conscious when their throats are cut. If the knife fails to properly cut the birds' throats, the birds are scalded to death in the defeathering tanks.
3. Turkey consumption is bad for the environment.Turkeys and other animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population—all without the benefit of waste-treatment systems. There are no federal guidelines to regulate how factory farms treat, store, and dispose of the trillions of pounds of concentrated, untreated animal excrement that they produce each year.
2. Turkey farming contributes to human starvation. Turkeys have to be fed grains, soy, oats, and corn that could otherwise be fed to human beings. Only a fraction of the calories fed to a turkey are turned into meat calories. While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, but it's about one-eighth the issue that meat-eating is.
And the number one reason to give the birds a break:
1. Factory-farmed turkeys have nothing to be thankful for.On factory farms, turkeys live for months in sheds where they are packed so tightly that flapping a wing or stretching a leg is nearly impossible. They stand mired in waste; urine and ammonia fumes burn their eyes and lungs. To keep the birds from killing one another in these crowded conditions, parts of the turkeys' toes and beaks are cut off, as are the males' snoods (the flap of skin under the chin). All this is done without any pain relievers.
A PETA investigator recently went undercover at a massive turkey-breeding facility in West Virginia and documented workers stomping on turkeys, punching them, beating them with pipes and boards, and twisting their necks repeatedly. One worker even bragged about shoving a broomstick down a turkey's throat because the bird had pecked at him. Our previous investigations show that such gratuitous abuse is the norm on turkey farms.
Check out VegCooking.com for tasty alternatives that will allow the turkeys to give thanks this Holiday season along with you and your family.
Written by Bruce Friedrich
The moose-hunting, fur-wearing, pro-aerial-wolf-gunning governor is in the news again. On Thursday, Sarah Palin visited a turkey farm in Wasilla for the traditional pre-Thanksgiving turkey "pardoning." Now, most people probably don't think about exactly how the turkeys raised for Thanksgiving dinner every year meet their maker. But not to worry. Sarah has that under control. In this video, while responding to a reporter who asks about her post-election plans, Palin talks about how she wants to "promote a local business" and do something that won't "invite criticism." While turkeys are being slaughtered. Behind her. ON CAMERA.
Was that one of those "gotcha" questions, Sarah? Because it seems to me that showing the bloody reality of slaughter is just about the worst thing you could do to promote this business. Some people just won't want to eat turkey after watching—especially when this happened the day after PETA released new undercover video from the world's leading poultry-breeding facility. In that video, workers stomp on turkeys' heads, punch them, and bang their heads against metal scaffolding.
This is a country of people who love animals—in fact, numerous polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that farmed animals deserve protection from abuse. The more that people are confronted with the ways that animals who are raised for food suffer—from the moment they're born until the moment they're killed—the more that people will start thinking about giving vegetarian meals a try. And then the factory farming industry will need a bigger bailout than the "Big Three."
Written by Dan Shannon
P.S.—Sarah Palin should take a cue from our own "President Bush," whose turkey-pardoning this year really was a "mission accomplished."
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.