Shannon, N.C. — The Hoke County Sheriff's Office raided a farm Thursday morning that raises turkeys for Butterball after an animal rights group complained about animal cruelty.
Mercy for Animals, which is based in Chicago, claims one of its activists worked for three weeks in the turkey houses and took hidden-camera video inside the farm, at 4213 N. Shannon Road in Shannon, that shows workers throwing, kicking, dragging and beating turkeys, as well as birds suffering from bloody open wounds and infections.
The group sent the undercover videos to Hoke County authorities.
"It was enough to convince us to do an investigation into it, which is what brings us here today," Hoke County sheriff's Capt. John Kivett said.
The farm has two turkey houses, each with about 1,000 birds. A third house is believed to be empty. Hoke County sheriff's investigators say veterinarians have to check every one of the estimated 2,500 turkeys on the farm.
"We do have a court order saying that if the veterinarians (who are) in there believe the birds need to be put down, that is a possibility that that will happen," Kivett said.
Butterball, which is headquartered in Garner, released a statement Thursday, saying the company is working with Hoke County government officials.
"Butterball takes these allegations very seriously and fully supports the efforts being made on the part of officials," according to the statement.
"Butterball has a zero-tolerance policy for any mistreatment of our birds or the failure to immediately report mistreatment of our birds by any associates. We are performing extensive internal and third-party audits as part of our own investigation. Employees found in violation of Butterball’s animal welfare policies will be subject to immediate termination."
Authorities arrested one person during Thursday's raid for an outstanding warrant that's unrelated to the animal cruelty complaints, according to the sheriff's office. No other information was available.