Making History: Butterball Case Marks First-Ever Felony Conviction for Cruelty to Factory-Farmed Birds

sadturkey2.jpgMercy For Animals' undercover investigation at a Butterball turkey factory farm in Hoke County, North Carolina, has led to what is believed to be the first-ever felony cruelty to animals conviction related to birds used for food production in US history. Considering that poultry make up 8 out of the nearly 9 billion land animals raised and killed for food each year in the United States, this felony conviction sets a powerful legal precedent.

Brian Douglas, along with several other Butterball employees, was documented violently kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their wings and necks, forcefully throwing turkeys, and bashing in the heads of live birds with metal bars. Douglas pled guilty to felony cruelty to animals on Tuesday, August 28 and will serve 30 days in jail, followed by 42 months of probation. The four other workers were also charged with cruelty to animals, and their cases are pending.

"Animals destined to enter the food supply for consumers, still deserve protection from completely senseless and totally unnecessary acts of cruelty," said Michael Hardin, Hoke County senior assistant district attorney, regarding the prosecution of the case. "Although, these animals are destined to be slaughtered, there is no justification for actions that amount to torture."

Watch the undercover investigation into Butterball here:


While the historic prosecution of this Butterball worker signals hope and meaningful legal progress for farmed animals, it is important to point out that the Butterball Corporation facilitated felony-level animal abuse by creating a culture of cruelty and neglect at its factory farms--an offense that goes far beyond the actions of a single rogue employee.

MFA will continue to press forward in its efforts to hold animal abusers accountable, and shine a spotlight on the cruel and corrupt practices of factory farms. Compassionate consumers, who wish to remove their financial support from industries that abuse animals, can help prevent the needless suffering of turkeys and other animals by adopting a compassionate vegan diet.
  • Calf
  • Chicken
  • Piglet

Stand up. Speak out. Defend animals.

Join our mailing list to learn about action opportunities, Mercy For Animals news, and more!

Count Me In!