Cal-Cruz Hatcheries Inc. in Santa Cruz, California has been accused of animal abuse. Compassion Over Killing, an animal protection group located in Washington, D.C., had an undercover investigator to shoot a video that showed hatchlings with skin torn so badly organs were exposed. These hatchlings were trapped in machinery, drown, or thrown in bins in the video.
Compassion Over Killing gave the video to the Santa Cruz County Animal Service Authority and filed a complaint against Cal-Cruz Hatcheries Inc. in February 2009. Authorities found that hatchlings were being abused and removed 88. It is believed that many more hatchlings had to be euthanized because they were do sick.
But, although an investigation revealed that hatchlings are mutilated, neglected, and abused and a lawsuit was filed against the company by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the DA’s office sent an email to Compassion Over Killing’s general counsel Cheryl Leahy which they informed the agency that they would not be filing charges. Litigation director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Carter Dillard said, “The systematic torture and reckless neglect of baby birds at Cal-Cruz is not only shocking — it is also illegal under the California Business and Professions Code.” Because the lawsuit was dropped, Compassion Over Killing believes the company will not change its ways.
For its part, Cal-Cruz Hatchery president Brian Collins said the video was real, but “I think the employees get desensitized to the actual handling of the bird, and for them, it’s a job.”
Still, Cal-Cruz lost business this week when Whole Foods Market confirmed that it will not purchase chicken from ranches that receive hatchlings from Cal-Cruz. The company spokesperson Beth Krauss said it “had about five degrees of separation” from the hatchery and said, “Moving forward, we will not be working with any ranches that receive chicks from Cal-Cruz.”
The company expects to stop receiving chickens born at the Cal-Cruz hatchery in about eight weeks. Whole Foods Market has a standard that prohibits purchasing meat of animals subject to abuse.