Group Calls for Criminal Charges Against Valley Egg Farm - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Group Calls for Criminal Charges Against Valley Egg Farm

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By: Nicole Garcia

Merced County - One day after releasing shocking video of alleged animal abuse at a North Valley egg laying farm, the activist group, Mercy for Animals, is appealing to law enforcement, to file criminal charges against the company, Gemperle Enterprises.

The video shows hens stuffed into cages, where they can't spread their wings, hens with open sores, and even a worker trying to ring a sick hen's neck.

"Farm animals feel pain, just like dogs and cats do, and they deserve legal protection from the most egregious cruelty," said Nathan Runkle with Mercy for Animals.

Runkle says officials at Gemperle Enterprises, based in Turlock, violated California's animal cruelty laws and the company as a whole should face criminal punishment.

Runkle says their video proves there's a broad-scale failure by the company to provide proper care and veterinary treatment for sick and hurt chickens.

"The video evidence clearly shows, rotting carcasses left to decompose in cages with birds still producing eggs for human consumption," said Runkle.

The video was taken by undercover workers at two sites, one in Delhi, the other in Hilmar.

Gemperle Enterprises is one of the largest egg farms on the west coast. The owner insists, he does treat the birds humanely. "Birds make me a living, the better I treat the birds, the better off I am... the chicken lays more eggs," said Ernie Gemperle.

Gemperle could not be reached for comment on possible criminal charges on Wednesday.

The Merced County District Attorney's office says they've not yet received the complaint.

The Merced County Sheriff's Department says they just received and viewed the video on Wednesday, and are looking into it.

Many egg-laying hens and chickens are not protected under federal animal cruelty laws.

But animal rights groups are backing a November ballot initiative in California, requiring that farm animals have more living space.

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