Watonwan County Attorney Stephen Lindee announced Wednesday that no charges would be filed following a complaint from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleging animal cruelty against Downs Food Group’s Butterfield facility.
The incident in question occurred in February 2020, where roughly 9,150 chickens were found frozen in three trailers parked in a shed near the Butterfield plant. PETA had obtained an inspector’s report from the incident and forwarded it to Lindee, asking him to pursue charges.
In a press release issued Wednesday, Lindee cited three reasons where he determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges. According to the release, the reasons given are:
- No names are provided, so Lindee does not know who witnesses or suspects are.
- There was no indication the deaths of the chickens was via negligent or intentional acts, or who committed those acts.
- A representative from Downs Foods had spoken to the supplier of the chickens about leaving the vents open on trailers as they traveled from Ohio, where temperatures were warmer, to Minnesota, which had sub-zero temperatures at the time. In the report sent to Lindee, it was indicated the provider would close the front vents for future shipments, and that Downs Foods would discontinue using the supplier if closing the vents did not remedy the issue.
“In sum, there is insufficient information and evidence to pursue criminal charges,” Lindee said in the release. “This decision does not discount the concerning circumstance of 9,150 chickens freezing to death. It simply reflects an analysis of the evidence provided.”
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