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PETA complaint probe continues

Monday, September 17, 2012

A state police investigation into allegations that turkeys were mistreated after a June truck accident in Ridgeway is nearing completion, according to Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bob Bushnell.

Bushnell asked the state police to investigate allegations of mistreatment after he received a letter from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a national animal rights organization.

Investigators “have interviewed a whole lot of people” and are putting that information in a final form, Bushnell said. “Hopefully, I will get it in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

He said the investigative phase has been lengthy, in part because “when they do a thorough job, it takes a while. They have interviewed a whole lot of people, and that means they are putting together a very substantial report.”

Bushnell noted that the “preparation of a report can be a very time-consuming” task.

The PETA letter was received about a week after a truck hauling about 600 turkeys overturned near Ridgeway.

PETA alleged that turkeys were left in the overturned truck for hours after the crash and were dying of heat exhaustion by the time other employees arrived to retrieve them. PETA claimed witnesses reported seeing people jumping on live birds, throwing them against the side of a truck and striking their heads against cages, among other things.

PETA alleged that “540 turkeys evidently suffered and died at the scene, possibly of heat-related stress.”

Bushnell has said that while the wreck itself may have caused some turkeys to suffer, others suffered because they were trapped in the truck after the crash.

However, he said at the time that he could not say that anyone violated the law by not releasing the birds, because doing so likely would have created a traffic hazard.

On Tuesday, Bushnell declined to speculate on whether the case will advance.

“I want to get the (results of the) investigation first,” he said.


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