North Carolina authorities have files two misdemeanor charges against Dr. Sarah Mason, a veterinarian who serves as director of poultry health programs in the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' veterinary division. She is charged with telling a Butterball staff veterinarian that an animal protection group had turned over to authorities an undercover video showing the alleged abuse of turkeys at a company facility, reports Reuters.
Department officials said Mason contacted the company's employee on December 23, the same day law enforcement officials had informed the agriculture department about an animal cruelty investigation into a Butterball turkey farm in Shannon, North Carolina. Mason, who pleaded guilty to obstruction charges, was placed on probations for 12 months and given a two-week suspension at her job.
The investigation began after the nonprofit Mercy For Animals provided law enforcement with secretly recorded video footage that showed live turkeys being kicked, thrown, dragged by the neck and wings and hit with some sort of stick or bar. Butterball said that five current or former employees have been charged with animal cruelty as a result of the investigation.