United Poultry Concerns April 17, 2003

San Diego County DA to Hold Briefing Today on Wood-Chipper Cruelty Case

An overwhelming public and organizational protest has ensued against the San Diego County District Attorney’s decision, announced on April 10, not to prosecute the owners of the Ward Egg Ranch, whose workers threw 30,000 hens into wood-chipping machinery in February. When County Animal Services investigators told the workers to stop, they said the workers continued to throw the live hens into the machinery, and company owners Arie and Bill Wilgenburg said they were acting on the advice of a veterinarian from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune (4/16), Deputy District Attorney Elisabeth Silva said, in defense of her decision not to prosecute the company: “Across the country, this is just one of the ways they [the poultry and egg industry] do it [mass-kill unwanted birds].” She said, “it’s cruel and it’s callous, but it’s part of any animal husbandry operation.”

United Poultry Concerns confirmed today, however, that San Diego District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis is holding a briefing with Deputy District Attorney Elisabeth Silva and other government officials involved in this case to evaluate the information they have, as well as the legal aspects of the case.

United Poultry Concerns, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and The Humane Society of the United States wrote to the District Attorney and the Deputy District Attorney urging prosecution of the owners of the Ward Egg Ranch and, following the decision not to prosecute, urging prosecution of all responsible individuals, especially of the veterinarian who told the company to throw the live hens into the machinery.

We hope to report that our request that everyone who was responsible for this act of merciless cruelty towards these defenseless hens will be charged with cruelty to animals. Grinding up live adult animals – feeding them into a funnel-shaped opening to be cut by blades into small pieces -- is not a recommended or permissible method of “euthanasia” under any code in the United States, including the 2000 AVMA Panel on Euthanasia Report, which states: “When animals must be euthanized, either as individuals or in larger groups, moral and ethical concerns dictate that humane practices be observed.”


United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. http://www.upc-online.org


United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

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