Might Courts Be Taking Cruelty to Animals More Seriously?

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Might Courts Be Taking Cruelty to Animals More Seriously?

By Heather Moore on Care2.com
July 2009

You may not have heard much about it, with all the scandals, celebrity hubbub, and other stories in the news lately, but two of PETA’s undercover factory farm investigations recently resulted in landmark cruelty to animals charges!

In one case, two former employees of Aviagen Turkeys were convicted of cruelty to animals for gratuitously abusing turkeys. One of men, who admitted to shoving feed down a turkey’s throat and maliciously breaking a turkey’s neck, was sentenced to a 12-month jail term. This is the maximum punishment permitted by law and the strongest penalty ever levied against an individual for cruelty to an animal raised for food in the U.S.

The other man, who pleaded guilty to stomping on a turkey’s head and slamming a turkey to the ground, was sentenced to two consecutive six-month stays of home confinement. More importantly, he is not allowed to own, live with, or work with any animals for five years.

A case against another former Aviagen employee is still pending, but a grand jury is expected to issue additional felony indictments against the individual.

These charges stem from PETA’s fall 2008 undercover investigation of the West Virginia farm. You can read more about the investigation at http://www.care2.com/causes/animal-welfare/blog/factory-farmers-indicted-on-first-ever-felony-charges/.

Not long before the ex-Aviagen employees were convicted of cruelty to birds, four former employees of an Iowa pig farm—which supplies pigs to Hormel—were punished for abusing pigs. PETA’s undercover investigator caught workers at the farms beating pigs, kicking them, spraying paint into their nostrils, electro-shocking pregnant sows, and more.

Three of the workers were sentenced to two years in prison each (unfortunately though, the sentences have been suspended) and all four were fined and ordered to pay court costs. Three of the men are also forbidden from owning or working with animals for up to two years.

Yet another former pig farm employee is currently serving six months’ probation and is also not allowed to have contact with animals. In January, he became the first person ever to be convicted of abusing or neglecting factory-farmed pigs in Iowa, the nation’s top pork-producing state.

Are these punishments strong enough? Not really, no. Nothing, not even serious retribution from the courts, can undo the pain and suffering that factory-farmed animals endure.

But it is encouraging that the courts are starting to give farmed animal abusers more than a mere slap on the wrist or a half-hearted “tisk, tisk.” In that respect, the charges are significant--and hopefully they’re an indication that the courts are finally going to start cracking down on farmed animal abuse cases.

Of course, everyone help stop both the willful and routine abuse of farmed animals simply by going vegetarian. Please visit GoVeg.com for more information and a free “Vegetarian Starter Kit.”

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