By Chris Berry, Animal Legal
Defense Fund (ALDF)
Animal Legal Defense Fund, representing Compassion Over Killing, recently filed a civil suit against Cal-Cruz [Santa Cruz chicken hatchery sued for animal abuse], a California chicken hatchery, to enjoin animal cruelty occurring there. This lawsuit marks an important development in animal law by seeking to apply animal cruelty standards to farm practices and doing so through a civil cause of action.
The action against Cal-Cruz stems from a 2009 undercover investigation by Compassion Over Killing.
The investigation produced video footage of chicks killed and mutilated by the operation of heavy machinery used by workers to sort the newly hatched chicks. Mutilated chicks often fell to the floor where they shook with pain and gasped for air within view of the workers. Eventually, workers picked those chicks off the floor, left them for long periods of time in a bin full of other injured chicks, and forced them all down a narrow chute where they passed through a kill plate and into a pool of waste.
These practices occurred with the knowledge of upper-management and appear to violate the California penal code which, generally speaking, prohibits action or inaction that unreasonably causes unjustified animal suffering.