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Sun May 21 2006 (Updated 03/28/07)"Wegmans Cruelty" Filmmaker Sentenced to Six Months for Trespassing
Sun May 21 2006 (Updated 03/28/07)Animal Rights Activists Produced Documentary from Undercover Footage
Wegmans Food Market has 70 stores in five East Coast states. The grocery chain produces its own eggs under the Wegmans name at a massive complex with 750,000 egg-laying hens in upstate New York. The activist group Compassionate Consumers contacted Wegmans to try to discuss the conditions at Wegmans Egg Farm. After the company dismissed the activists's concerns, members of Compassionate Consumers set out on their own to capture actual footage from inside the farm and create a film based on their experience. The result was a 27-minute documentary entitled "Wegman's Cruelty" released in the summer of 2005 which features undercover footage as well as the misleading statements of company representatives. While the company claims it does "not abuse animals" and offers such seemingly common sense appeals as that it would not be profitable to keep their hens in unhealthy conditions, the activists documented appalling conditions at the egg farm. Besides being stuffed nine to a cage, hens in the lower cages were covered in excrement from the hens above. Numerous hens had extremities stuck in their wire cages for what appeared to have been an extended period of time. Dead chickens were not removed from cages, forcing live hens to walk over them until the corpses of the dead chickens became emedded in the cage floors. The activists reported that ammonia fumes were so overwhelming that their eyes watered and it was hard to breathe. Several hens were found under the floorboards of the sheds trapped and drowning in fecal muck several feet deep.
Compassionate Consumers says more than 20,000 people have downloaded the movie online, and that more than 6,000 free copies of the DVD version have been distributed. Members and their supporters have also staged rallies outside of Wegmans stores. Wegmans fought back against the group with a PR blitz and convinced authorities to go after three of the activists with charges related to their unauthorized entries into the farm and their removal of several distressed hens. Two of the activists pleaded guilty to reduced charges. The maker of the film, Adam Durand, took his case to trial and was sentenced May 18th to the maximum 6 months in jail for trespassing. Compassionate Consumers says their "War On Cages" will go on as they continue to to inform the public by distributing "Wegmans Cruelty" and holding demonstrations at Wegmans Food Markets.
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