GARNER, NC – Animal rights group Mercy for Animals has released an undercover video depicting animal abuse at a turkey production facility reportedly operated by Butterball.

The video depicts workers improperly handling live birds as well as footage of some sick turkeys and others with open sores and other injuries.

A Butterball representative released the following statement:

"Butterball is aware of the video released today by Mercy for Animals, and we take any allegations of animal mistreatment very seriously. As has been our long-standing policy, we have a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse. Any employee found to have violated our animal care and well-being guidelines, as well as any employee who witnessed abuse and failed to report it, will be terminated. Butterball’s guidelines are based on guidelines developed by the National Turkey Federation that have been approved by animal well-being experts including Dr. Joy Mench at Univ. of California at Davis, Dr. Janice Swanson from Michigan State Univ. and Dr. Gail Golab at the American Veterinary Medical Association, among others.

"When we learn of any instances of animal mistreatment, we take immediate corrective action to suspend workers involved, conduct a swift investigation and terminate their employment with the company. Upon learning of these new concerns, we immediately initiated an internal investigation and suspended the associates in question. Pending the completion of that investigation, Butterball will then make a determination on additional actions including immediate termination for those involved.

"Animal care and well-being is central to the operations of our company, and we remain committed to the ethical and responsible care of our turkey flocks."

The group claims the abuse is identical to incidents recorded at a Butterball facility in 2011. Local law enforcement raided a facility in Hoke County, NC, after the group made an undercover video in December 2011 depicting animal abuse. Arrests were made, and a veterinarian at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture was charged and suspended from her job in connection with that incident.