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Animal rights group to release video of alleged abuse at Santa Cruz hatchery
Home The News Animal rights group to release video of alleged abuse at Santa Cruz hatchery

By Shanna McCord

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Posted: 06/01/2010 08:20:07 PM PDT

Updated: 06/01/2010 08:20:08 PM PDT

A Washington, D.C.-based animal rights group is trying to bring attention to a case of abused and neglected ducklings at a local hatchery that led to 88 birds getting confiscated by Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority.

Compassion Over Killing, the nonprofit animal advocacy organization that focuses on cruelty to animals in agriculture, will hold a press conference in Santa Cruz Wednesday to release an undercover video showing what they believe are "shocking abuses and suffering" practices at Cal-Cruz Hatchery, a longtime hatchery on Rodriguez Street.

The video was taken by an employee of Compassion Over Killing — a 30-something-year-old man — who was hired by Cal-Cruz Hatchery in January 2009 to perform maintenance work. He worked at the hatchery for only a few weeks, secretly documenting the mistreatment of ducklings with a hidden video camera, said Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing.

"We believe the evidence clearly shows abuse," Meier said. "The ducklings were literally treated like trash. They were mangled in the machinery. It's quite horrible." The video was turned over to county animal services officials in February 2009 and a separate investigation was conducted by local authorities that turned up corroborating evidence of abused ducklings, said Lynn Miller, interim manager of Animal Services.

State law prohibits torture, needless suffering and killing of any animal.

A report from Animal Services was given to the District Attorney's Office, which declined to press charges against Cal-Cruz Hatchery, Miller said.

A representative from the District Attorney's Office was unavailable to comment on Tuesday.

Calls to Cal-Cruz Hatchery were not returned.

Of the 88 ducklings confiscated in May 2009, 40 were on the verge of dying and had to be euthanized, Miller said.

"They were dehydrated. Some had burns, hypothermia, were covered in feces and malnourished," he said. "Some were beyond salvaging." Miller said Cal-Cruz Hatchery employees were cooperating with the investigation and have since halted the duckling part of the business to focus on chickens.

The other ducklings were stabilized and moved to a farm sanctuary in Orland.

Cal-Cruz Hatchery has not been investigated in the past, Miller said.

"Our being there probably changed their behavior," he said. "I wouldn't say our involvement was for naught. Cal-Cruz took it very seriously, and I believe they discontinued the practice of working with ducklings." Compassion Over Killing routinely conducts undercover investigations of slaughterhouses and animal facilities across the country.

A recent investigation exposed an egg factory in Minnesota.

Cal-Cruz Hatchery was randomly chosen, Meier said.

Meier said her organization is disappointed the case won't be prosecuted.

"We believe if this were dogs and cats abused and neglected, the case would be promptly prosecuted," she said. "We're not 100 percent clear why the case is not moving forward in court."


Jill Homer Stewart

Director of Government Affairs

Policy Directions Inc.

818 Connecticut Avenue, Ste 950

Washington, DC 20006


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First Posting 25-03-2010 06:51:39 RoyRogers59