6 charged in Butterball turkey abuse

Feb. 16, 2012 at 8:45 PM

SHANNON, N.C., Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Six workers at a North Carolina Butterball turkey farm face charges after a video showing alleged animal abuse led to a raid of the farm, authorities said.

Three Butterball workers were arrested Wednesday for alleged turkey abuse. Terry Johnson was charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals, Ruben Mendoza was charged with animal cruelty and felony identity theft, and Jose Garcia was charged with felony identity theft, ABC News reported Thursday.

Three other employees were being sought on similar charges.

Sarah Mason, a veterinarian at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and was suspended from her job Monday for allegedly alerting Butterball to the impending police raid.

The farm was raided Dec. 28 after a video of the alleged abuse of turkeys was shot undercover by animal rights group Mercy for Animals.

 "Butterball allowed a culture of cruelty and abuse to fester at its company-owned factory farms," the organization's director, Nathan Runkle, said. "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."

Four Butterball employees were fired as a result of the investigation and two others suspended, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

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