Six animal rights activists have been charged with felony theft and up to 10 years in prison by the county prosecutor in Sanpete, Utah following a nine-month investigation of national turkey supplier Norbest, based in Moroni, Utah.
The activists, who were working with global animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere [DxE], say they removed a sick turkey chick from a massive industrial shed in order to take the animal for veterinary treatment.
According to the activists, taking the bird they have named Abby to the vet, was an 'act of compassion' - despite prosecutors calling the action criminal.
DxE Co-founder and Lead Investigator Wayne Hsiung, one of the defendants, said: "Rescuing a dying bird is not a crime; it's an act of compassion.
"Abby was collapsed in her own feces and dying. We did what any good person would do: we took her to the vet.
"The public has a right to know what’s happening to make their food, and most Americans are horrified by the cruelty in these farms. This prosecution isn’t about a dying bird but about the industry’s efforts to prevent truthful information from reaching the public."
DxE filmed themselves rescuing Abby the turkey
According to DxE, its 2017 investigation uncovered 'rotting, diseased birds eating one another alive with birds packed shoulder-to-shoulder in filthy industrial sheds'.
The group adds: "Records from within the facility indicated that diseases such as hepatitis were spreading through the flock and that the farm had, in at least one case, resorted to the mass use of penicillin in the water.
Norbest claimed the circumstances uncovered by activists were 'isolated incidents'.