A worker at a North Carolina Butterball turkey processing plant was hit with fines and a prison sentence after an animal rights activists group exposed the company's mistreatment of turkeys.
Brian Douglas pleaded guilty Tuesday to animal abuse after he was seen on tape stomping on turkeys. Douglas and six others were charged in the case, which was brought about after the animal rights activist group Mercy for Animals captured video footage in December of workers beating, smashing, and throwing live turkeys.
"Butterball allowed a culture of cruelty and abuse to fester at its company-owned factory farms," MFA Executive Director Nathan Runkle said in a statement. "Before ending up in restaurants and grocery stores, turkeys killed for Butterball are routinely crowded into filthy warehouses, neglected to die from infected, bloody wounds, and thrown, kicked, and beaten by factory farm workers."
An MFA activist who worked undercover at Butterball for three weeks captured the footage. The group stated that the worker had witnessed "an ongoing pattern of cruelty to the turkeys" which included Butterball employees intentionally committing "acts of violence and severe neglect."
Butterball has stated that the abuse was an isolated incident and promotes itself as company that prides itself on the well-being of its animals.
"As we have since we first learned of the incident at our Hoke County facility, Butterball condemns the actions of the former associates involved and will continue to cooperate fully with all external investigations and authorities," a company statement read. "Animal care and well-being is central to the operations of our company and we are committed to the care and well-being of our turkey flocks."
Douglas received a 30-day jail sentence in addition to a six-month parole. He was also charged with $550 in fines. Six other workers, whose cases are ongoing, will also face charges for animal cruelty.