Humane Society of the United States – Out to Protect Our Food as Well as Our Pets

Somehow the words “Humane Society” always seem to bring images of puppies and kittens to my mind. But the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) will NOT stop at dogs and cats; ALL animals are to be protected, including the turkeys and chickens that are part of our everyday diets.

Like the comic book hero Hellboy – who was tough on evil doers but had a soft heart for cats – HSUS is out to stamp out the bad guys.

Today the HSUS is challenging Perdue Farms‘ claims that the chickens in packages sold under the “Perdue” or “Harvestland” labels are “humanely raised.” Truth-in-advertising laws can be used in a wide variety of ways!

HSUS points to industry guidelines that permit numerous inhumane practices, including:

  • Painful handling and shackling of live birds
  • Near continuous, dim lighting that prevents normal resting behavior and is linked to painful problems associated with fast growth
  • Transport and holding of birds on cramped trucks for long periods of time in extreme temperatures with no food or water
  • Egregiously inhumane slaughter practices

Clearly those are not practices that could be considered humane. Read the rest of the announcement here.

Last week, the day before Thanksgiving, HSUS released the findings from its latest undercover investigation of a turkey hatchery in Willmar Minnesota. An undercover HSUS investigator worked – and filmed – in a Willmar Poultry Company hatchery for 11 days in October. According to the company, 50% of the whole turkeys available in typical U.S. grocery stores were hatched at the company. The company hatches 30 million poults (young turkeys) annually and delivers 600,000 baby turkeys to customers every week.

The investigator documented multiple abuses including:

  • Grinding animals alive. Sick, deformed, and injured birds—as well as healthy animals who are “leftovers” not needed for buyers’ orders—are killed by being thrown into grinding machines.
  • Mutilations without pain relief. Workers amputate parts of turkeys’ toes and snoods without any painkillers and jam their heads into a machine that sears parts of their beaks off with lasers—also without painkillers.
  • Abandoned birds left to suffer. Sick and injured poults are tossed into plastic bins or left abandoned and suffering on the floor through the day until they’re thrown down a chute into the jaws of a grinding machine.
  • Sick and injured animals. Birds suffer from broken necks, missing eyes, and bleeding wings and legs. Injured and deformed poults are tossed into boxes and left to suffer.

“Our latest investigation exposes a callous disregard for animal welfare in the turkey industry, including practices such as grinding alive sick, injured, and even healthy but unwanted turkeys,” stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “It’s unacceptable for workers to leave injured and non-ambulatory animals to suffer on the floor for hours on end, only to then send them to their deaths in a grinder.”

Read the rest of the announcement here and watch a video taken inside the Willmar plant. Be aware that the video is not for the squeamish.