PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Pa. State Police have charged 11 people with animal abuse for alleged inhumane treatment of turkeys at seven farms across Pennsylvania.
The following people are facing six felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, 76 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, and 57 related summary offenses:
- Bryce Washington, 26, of McSherrystown
- Miguel Turi Canetellano, 65, of McSherrystown
- Juan Turia Baeza, 37, of McSherrystown
- Jason Turner, 22, of Hanover
- Bryiant Perez-Paez, 40, of Hanover
- Francisco Lebron-Cruz, 39, of Thomasville
- Jose Turie Baeza, 29, of New Oxford
- Kevin Wagaman, 49, of Fayetteville
- Mitchell Buckley, 23, of Aspers
- Christopher McArdle, 37, of Gettysburg
- Joseph Nunez Rosario, 41, of York
Police say another individual involved has not been identified.
Those charged were employed by Plainville Farms to capture and crate turkeys that were destined for food processing plants.
"Even though these turkeys are raised for consumers, all the way up to the end they have to be treated humanely," said Corporal Brent Miller, department public information officer for the Pennsylvania State Police.
State Police allege that those facing charges kicked, stomped, and beat turkeys at farms in Chester, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Perry, and Union counties.
Authorities say the investigation began in Aug. 2021 and resulted from a complaint filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Police say a PETA employee witnessed the actions of the turkey catchers.
“This was pervasive, persistent, it was particularly violent and it was sadistic," said Daniel Paden, vice president of evidence analysis for PETA.
PETA says this is the largest number of cruelty charges in U.S. history stemming from a case involving animals raised on factory farms.
“This was far and away the most egregious, systemic, top-to-bottom cruelty that we’ve ever seen in a case like this," added Paden.
While PETA pushed for charges to be pressed sooner, police say an investigation of this size takes time.
“It was different counties, seven different farms and each particular incident had to be looked at, there was a video out there, that all has to be gathered," explained Corporal Miller.
Plainville Farms CEO Matt Goodson released the following statement on the charges:
“For 100 years, Plainville Farms has been committed to setting the gold standard in animal welfare. At all times, Plainville management fully cooperated in this investigation and supported the authorities during this process. Plainville has zero tolerance for anything like the alleged actions of these former employees.
Plainville acted swiftly and implemented the following actions:
- Started an aggressive internal investigation including outside animal welfare experts
- Immediately terminated all employees involved
- Replaced catching employees with a third party vendor providing catching services
- Reviewed and raised already stringent animal welfare standards, education and information processes
- Utilizing stationary and body cameras during the catching process
- Have third party animal welfare specialist monitor the video footage and join catching crews in the field.
Plainville remains committed to the highest welfare standards for our animals and customers. We believe that it’s important for incidents like this to come to light in order to challenge our industry to do better. We are grateful to the State of Pennsylvania and its law enforcement for joining us in taking action and holding the involved individuals accountable for their actions.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions.”