Seven workers at a Tyson factory farm in Virginia were recently convicted of cruelty to animals after an undercover investigation revealed severe mistreatment of chickens. In a video, the workers could be seen throwing, punching, kicking, swinging, and shoving chickens into sheds and cages. One excerpt even depicted a worker running over chickens with farm equipment. All seven of the workers received suspended sentences and were banned from work with animals for a period of at least one year.
Despite the positive outcome in this case, convictions under cruelty statutes are still rare, and punishments are often minor even when the actions involve intentional acts of shocking cruelty. AWI supports stronger enforcement of state animal cruelty laws and wider application of such laws to cover treatment of animals on farms. Unfortunately, most of the cruel treatment farm animals are routinely subjected to is legal—exempted as “generally accepted practices” under state animal cruelty laws. And there are no federal laws governing the conditions under which farm animals are raised—a state of affairs AWI also seeks to rectify.