<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Hope and Faith 

Faith just died, too. I will write more about this later and let you all know what the vet had to say. Right now I need to go dig her grave. Thanks to everyone that tried to help these babies. At least they are not suffering any more. Let's try to do what we can to make sure this doesn't happen again.

**2nd UPDATE**
As promised, here is what happened at the vet:
She looked her over, gave her a shot of penicillin and everything, but she wasn't hopeful about her chances. She was encouraged to see a solid poop and by the fact that Faith was drinking a lot of water. She basically said that we were doing about all there was to do for her. She also gave us some stuff to clean out her wounds with. They were quite infected. The penicillin shot was enough for two days. If she made it that long, then we would have taken her back for another. She didn't, though, as you have probably already read above. She died later that day. But, at least we know that we did our best and that she was loved and treated with compassion at the end of her life. Hopefully people will identify with the plight of these babies and not be so quick to say things like, "They're just chickens." They are not. These were two babies who didn't deserve what happened to them. Please don't condone and support such cruelty when you make the decisions as to what to buy at the store to feed your families. There are many more Faiths and Hopes out there that are counting on you NOT to participate in the cruelty directed at them in the quest for profits by these factory farming corporations.

(This post is dedicated to the memory of Hope and Faith and to all the billions of others like her. Rest in peace, Hope and Faith. We love you.)

There has been a sad set of circumstances happen around here over the past couple of days. We are in mourning today over the loss of Hope. We will be burying Hope today with dignity and respect. Who or what is Hope, you ask? Well, let me tell you the story of Hope and Faith.

The night before last we brought home two extremely injured babies here. Hope and Faith are (or in the case of Hope, was) baby chickens that had fallen off a truck after being loaded. My mother-in-law found these two babies in the middle of the highway and rescued them, calling us to come get them and try to save them. There are pictures of their injuries on the photo page, but I have to warn you that they are quite graphic in nature, and therefore very upsetting to look at for those of us who love animals.

The sad thing is that they are just a small example of the cruelty that is inflicted daily on these birds, who are under no protection under the law. What happened to them was totally legal. Of course, as those who have read this blog from the beginning and read the earliest entries I wrote here of the horrific cruelty that happens know, the authorities around here are not very anxious to make a big deal out of the routine torture of chickens. In fact, I have never heard of anyone around here being held responsible and prosecuted for animal cruelty, except for one guy who had locked puppies in a hot car. At least they held him responsible for his actions. I have to commend the prosecutor for that much. I only wish he cared about chickens as much as he seems to about puppies.

They could have prosecuted the people responsible for the cruelties I have written about here if they had wanted to. The letters from caring people everywhere poured in, asking for the prosecutor and the sheriff to do something about the cruelty down at Tyson. But, sadly enough, they didn't. Perhaps that is why Hope and Faith were left to their cruel and undeserved fate. Perhaps that is why I am having to write this sad post today. Perhaps that is why Laura is sitting here with tears streaming down her face right now. Again...

This will keep on happening to innocent babies until enough people scream, "NO!!!!!" This sort of behavior needs to be stopped. And it needs to be stopped now. This didn't have to happen. Let me tell you a bit about Hope and Faith and the ordeal they have been put through at the hands of such an uncaring person (who, no doubt, will not be held responsible for his behavior, either).

If you have looked at the pics already, you can plainly see that there are deep gashes on these babies. From my experience at the plant seeing many chickens and their injuries, I can make a pretty good guess of how this happened. Let me explain.

It looks to me like these babies were slammed in the door of the cage as they were loaded on the truck. It appears that at least one of them - Hope - was picked up by her wing when she was loaded, also. It turned black from her body to the joint in her wing (what would be an elbow to you and me) through the day after the pictures were taken.

Catching is done at such a fast pace that many times the cage door is slammed on the last chicken to be loaded in the cage. Now, let me tell you a little bit about the way these cages are made and how this happens.

The doors are spring-loaded so that, at the point of being halfway closed, the spring will take over and slam the door shut and hold it closed. Most of the time, the last catcher to throw his chickens through the door will have to shove and pack them to get them all in there, as these cages are not very big, considering the number of chickens that are squashed inside there. This number can be anywhere from 15-21 chickens in each little door. There are 20 cages on a truck, each with about 300 birds per cage. Each cage has multiple doors.

Now, the chickens are packed in these cages so tightly that, many times, the only way for the catcher to get the door closed is to slam or kick it closed. Sometimes the chicken closest to the door will be slammed in the door, their body is hanging part of the way in and part of the way out. This is also assuming that the cage in not in a bad state of disrepair, which many are.

These cages are made of aluminum tubing with a steel frame, and the door is made out of thin aluminum. When these cages have been used awhile, they develop sharp edges and injure chickens as well as the catchers themselves. Sometimes, some of their springs won't work anymore. When that happens, the catcher will use a chicken to wedge it shut. They will purposely close a body part of the chicken in the door, usually a leg (although I have seen them shut the door on the middle of the body of one), to hold it shut. This works in much the same way as does putting a piece of cardboard in a door and shutting it on it hard to keep it closed when the latch fails.

Now, because of the number of years I worked in this industry, I have seen the injuries that are inflicted on the chickens when this happens. The injuries to Hope and Faith are consistent with the injuries I saw inflicted on birds that have been slammed in cage doors.

Now, Tyson may try to come back and dispute this, trying to convince people that the injuries to these birds occurred as they fell from the truck and hit the road. Not so. The bruising I saw - maybe. The deep gashes - certainly not. Most people know what road rash looks like. If you look at these pictures, you can plainly see that road rash is not what we are dealing with here. (I have high-resolution pics available upon request - only the low-res. are posted now becuase I have limited space allowed to me.)

Now, I will admit that I am no veterinarian, however, I have seen this many times before. If you are a vet and have seen such an injury, or you also conclude from looking at the pics supplied that I am correct or incorrect, feel free to contact me. I will be taking Faith to the vet this morning. I would have taken both of them yesterday, but I had no money to do that with at the time. Thanks to some caring people who sent out and responded to a plea for help yesterday, we do have some limited donated funds to pay for this now. We don't know yet if it will be enough, but we are taking her in anyway, and hope that others will also answer the call for help for this innocent baby. This is her only hope. (I will never say that word again without thinking of that poor baby chicken and what she suffered. I hope that you won't, either. There - said it again. Damn, this is hard!)

What upsets me the most is that quite a few people went to a lot of trouble to present indisputable evidence that there was horrific cruelty, even torture, going on at Tyson, but there was nothing done about it. The authorities didn't even have to do the investigation themselves. All of the evidence they needed was presented to them on a silver platter. People have been sent to prison on less evidence than was collected in this case, including me. They only needed to press the charges. They did not. So, things like this continue to happen. To babies.

This time it happened in public, and someone else found out. Then, they rightly took action to help. Laura's mother cared enough to stop and pick these chickens up, put them in a box in her van, and call us to come get them to try to save them, or at least keep them from being eaten alive by predators, or freezing to death on the side of the road. A big thanks goes out to her for being such a wonderful and caring person. Many people whizzed past these babies on the highway, without giving them another thought. The "they're just chickens" mentality again, no doubt. How utterly sad it is to think that they have no more heart than that. These are babies. Innocent ones. Only about nine weeks old. They still peep instead of cluck. They are just sweet little babies who did not deserve to be treated in such a horrifically cruel way.

If something had been done when I first brought all this to light then perhaps this would not have happened to start with. They suffered unnecessarily. I would like to know why the Polk County authorities are letting people get away with this. Don't you?

If so, you can contact them here:

The Honorable Tim Williamson, Prosecuting Attorney
Polk County Prosecutor’s Office
P.O. Drawer 109, 600 Port Arthur St.
Mena, AR 71953
479-394-6173 (fax)

Need I also remind people that the Grannis P.D. is right across the street from the plant? They have no doubt seen quite a few acts of cruelty themselves, yet they do nothing, either. Is it because they don't care or they don't believe anyone will be prosecuted? I don't know. Their site is at http://www.geocities.com/grannispd if you want to ask them, too.

This has been going on for years, but the outside world has only found out about it in the last year or so. I am hoping that, with enough attention from the public on this issue, even if no one is ever prosecuted in court, that the bad PR will force Tyson to do something about this. They just don't care. That is obvious. If they had listened to me long ago when I first spoke up (even when I still worked there), I would have never started up this blog and made a big deal out of all of this. You wouldn't be here reading about yet another act of cruelty attributed to their company. Perhaps you would like to tell them directly instead of or in addition to telling the authorities. If so, then you can contact them, too at ed.nicholson@tyson.com. He is their PR guy and spokesman.

The ordeal for Hope is over. She is at peace now and at least knew love and compassion at some point in her short life. Faith is still fighting, although she is quite weak and in obvious pain. We have already put a call into the vet this morning, leaving a message on the answering machine for them to call us as soon as they get in. I want to thank those people who mobilized quickly as soon as they heard about this and were generous enough to donate to help pay for the care for them. (If you would like to do the same, you can either do so through the PayPal button on this site or email me for my address.) I want to give a special than you for Billye for sending out a plea for Hope and Faith immediately after hearing of their ordeal. But, the person I most want to thank is Laura's mother, who was kind and caring enough to stop on her way to work and pick these babies up. She is the kind of person who will go out of her way to help any animal in need - humans, too. It is just in her nature to do so. And she raised Laura to do the same. I am lucky to have had these caring people accept me into their family. Thank you.

Thank you for helping me become the kind of person that mourns the death of one chicken, instead of being responsible for killing many of them. Thank you for helping me to realize that there is greater strength in caring that there ever will be in suppressing emotions with the intent of appearing to "be strong." Thank you for helping me be a real man that can express his feelings and emotions, even in pubic - to the whole world. Thank you for helping me to realize that to be a strength and not a weakness. Thank you for being patient with me as I went through this transformation. I know it wasn't easy. But, you loved me through it all. Thank you.

You know, I was thinking about that yesterday. The fact that the death of this one poor little baby chicken has hit me so hard, like a punch to the gut, has been what has really driven home the fact that I have changed so much. I have seen many dead chickens, watched them die, even killed them myself, but the death of this one, watching her suffer and breathe her last, was absolutely heartbreaking. What is even worse is that I know that she is not alone in her suffering. There are billions more just like her. And I used to kill them. What a big change I have made in just a little over a year! What a wonderful change, though. Yes, it hurts. But, it only serves to remind me that what I am doing is right. I will keep on fighting to try to prevent such needless suffering, no matter what.

I hope that you will, too.
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