The prosecutor investigating workers' mistreatment of chickens at a West Virginia
slaughterhouse says the videotape he's seen so far doesn't support animal-rights
advocates' charges of torture.
The secretly recorded footage, released last month by a rights group, shows
workers stomping on chickens and slamming them into walls at a Pilgrim's Pride
plant in Moorefield, West Virginia.
"From where I stand, I don't think it's torture at this time," Hardy
County Prosecutor Lucas See said this week. "It looks as though that was
the quickest method they had available to them to kill the birds."
The Associated Press reports that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,
which released the footage, now accuses See of not taking the case seriously.
See, who cautioned that he still had more videotape to view and workers to interview
before making a final decision, said he would not be pressured into prosecuting.
Workers found to have tortured birds could be charged with a felony carrying
penalties of up to three years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Misdemeanor animal
cruelty is punishable by up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
The debate over criminal charges hasn't stopped Pilgrim's Pride from acting
on its own. When the video footage became public, it quickly fired 11 employees.
Associated Press, via FindLaw.com