After the story about the chickens that were abandoned in a Pine Bluff neighborhood ran last week, many of you sent us notes saying how horrified you were that it happened.
We were, too.
First, some background.
A trailer load of dead and living chickens found Wednesday at a remote location on the west side of Pine Bluff has prompted an investigation by both the USDA and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Lafayette Woods Jr. said Thursday that he received a call about the trailer on Tuesday night but was unable to locate it at that time. He said he received more information Wednesday, which led him to Fifth Avenue and Spruce Street, where he found the trailer connected to a Peterbilt semi-truck.
“Some of the chickens were dead, some were dying and some were alive,” Woods said. “The truck was there but there was no driver.”
After contacting the city’s Animal Control unit, Woods said he also called the sheriff’s office’s Criminal Investigation Unit, the USDA and the prosecutor’s office. He was told that if the driver could be located, the person could be charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals for each chicken in the truck.
Because the location of the tractor-trailer was in close proximity to Summit Poultry, which took over the old Tyson plant on West Second Avenue, Woods said he went to the plant and talked to the owner, who acknowledged that one of his drivers had dropped the trailer off.
The plant owner, Rory Botto, and the driver, identified as Robert Mambrey, were told to come get the truck.
When they did, representatives of the USDA followed it back to Summit Poultry to ensure that the chickens were disposed of properly. A secretary at Summit Poultry Thursday afternoon said that Botto had already left for the day and was unavailable for comment.
Woods said he later learned that the chickens in the trailer had been taken to Oklahoma, where they were supposed to be euthanized before being brought back to Pine Bluff for processing. He said he was told that it was not unusual to take chickens to other states for the same procedure.
Now let’s analyze this scenario.
Mr. Botto and his associate Mr. Mambrey came to get the trailer of chickens only after they were ordered to do so by law enforcement.
In what world of business is acceptable to abandon cargo — especially living/dying creatures — until such time that it’s necessary to call the police to intervene? Neighbors living in the area say this isn’t the first time it’s happened, either.
It’s just the first time they got caught doing it.
Mr. Botto, this isn’t how we conduct business in Pine Bluff. There is no circumstance that should ever allow for a trailer full of chickens to remain on a public street in our city. We have driven by your facility many times, and there appears to be ample room for a truck to park.
Many people here are doing their best to try and move Pine Bluff forward, and you somehow think it’s acceptable to leave dead and dying chickens in the middle of our city?
How long would the chickens have remained there had law enforcement not become involved?
We have sought answers about how and why this happened but have gotten nowhere.
Rest assured, we won’t stop until we find out.