Mercy for Animals says it has documented abuse at Butterball facilities in Onslow, Duplin, Lenoir and Sampson counties through an undercover investigator, the group said Wednesday.
Mercy for Animals has talked with district attorneys and law enforcement officials for the four counties.
The man who said he did the investigation told NBC-17, "I witnessed the men who work for this company abusing animals, plain and simple."
The investigator, who did not reveal his name, said, “They kicked the animals. They threw the animals. The birds were tormented by the guys by being smacked with these rags that they used to try to move the animals.”
The man said he worked undercover at various Butterball operations through October.
“These men routinely abused these animals with very little regard for either Butterball’s rule or the management who were also aware of what was happening there," he said.
In a statement, Butterball said it was aware of a video released by Mercy for Animals and took "any allegations of animal mistreatment very seriously."
"Any employee found to have violated our animal care and well-being guidelines, as well as any employee who witnessed abuse and failed to report it, will be terminated," Butterball said.
Butterball says animal care and well-being is "central to the operations of our company, and we remain committed to the ethical and responsible care of our turkey flocks."
"When we learn of any instances of animal mistreatment, we take immediate corrective action to suspend workers involved, conduct a swift investigation and terminate their employment with the company," the company said.
Butterball, based in Garner, said it has launched an internal investigation into the matter.
The investigator said he also witnessed abuse at a facility in Cumberland County, but did not get evidence on camera. So, Mercy for Animals is not pursuing charges there.
Veterinarian Greg Burkett was with law enforcement officials who raided a Hoke County Butterball facility last year and saw the effects of abuse.
"There were many, many birds that were dead or dying," he said.
Burkett said the abuse in the new video is similar to what occured last year in Hoke county. Several people were charged in connection to that case.
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