MEDIA RELEASE: 11,000 Call on Sheriff’s Department to Investigate Animal Cruelty at Koch Foods

MEDIA RELEASE: 11,000 Call on Sheriff’s Department to Investigate Animal Cruelty at Koch Foods

Crandall, GA (May 20, 2020) — Over 11,000 In Defense of Animals supporters are calling for an investigation into Georgia’s already-troubled chicken factory farming industry over the needless suffering and deaths of thousands of chickens.

The world has watched in shock as Georgia’s chicken meat business has recklessly pursued profits by exposing slaughterhouse workers to dangerous working conditions where there is a high risk of infection from COVID-19. 

Hundreds of workers in Georgia have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least five have died so far.

Now Georgia animal advocates have exposed sickening evidence of the meat industry’s indifference to animal suffering in the state.

Billion-dollar Koch Foods corporation reportedly abandoned thousands of chickens to die terrible deaths from injuries, starvation, dehydration and exposure after a tornado hit one of its chicken farms in April. Sickening images show animals crushed beneath the wreckage. Many were still alive after being trapped for days without food, water, or medical attention.

 Rescuers were given a small window to save the lives of chickens who survived before they were denied access. 

“The smell was unbelievable,” said a local rescuer who visited one of the farms damaged by the tornado who prefers to remain anonymous. “First, you would be walking through maggot filled water — birds trapped under wooden slats and you had to rip them up to get the birds out. Then rows of huddled birds alive and in groups. Hundreds. Huddled together and some huddled in groups of dead birds. We rescued one hen, alive, but so covered in maggots. They were crawling all over her and she died by the next morning. They had no shelter and were sitting in maggot-filled death water and in the full elements with no food or water available. The farm left these animals like they didn’t matter in the least little bit.”

Tragically, several of the chickens who were rescued were too weak and sick to save, later perishing in rescuers’ arms. Necropsies showed these victims died from extreme dehydration, and might have been saved if Koch Foods had not left them to rot. A preliminary necropsy found that some were also suffering from other conditions including visceral gout, liver abscess, autolysis and peritonitis. 

Rescuers contacted the Murray County Sheriff’s Department to demand an investigation. But the department has so far failed to act.

11,400 In Defense of Animals supporters and local rescuers are now petitioning the Murray County Sheriff’s Department to investigate Koch Foods corporation for animal cruelty.

Cruelty to “livestock” is clearly illegal under Georgia’s animal cruelty laws. Per the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the public is specifically encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Department to intervene when they believe animals, including chickens, are being unnecessarily harmed.

“In these past two months the Georgia poultry industry has revealed its brutal indifference to human and nonhuman lives,” said Marilyn Kroplick M.D., President of In Defense of Animals. “Billion-dollar corporations are not exempt from Georgia's animal cruelty laws, which exist to prevent needless animal suffering. We are calling on the Murray County Sheriff’s Department to urgently investigate the horrific deaths of thousands of birds under the care of Koch Foods.”

  • Members of the public are encouraged to sign the alert to Murray County Sheriff’s Department:
  • Georgia factory farm and slaughterhouse workers experiencing difficulties at work are urged to call In Defense of Animals Slaughterhouse Support Line for free and confidential support at: 1-800-510-6289

Contact: Fleur Dawes,, 415-879-6879

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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.

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