A man has been charged by police with second-degree animal cruelty after dozens of dead chicks reportedly left without water over the 3-day Memorial Day weekend were documented outside of a farm supply store in a trash can by a concerned customer, who reached out to Lady Freethinker for help.

Lady Freethinker sent our petition, now signed by more than 32,000 people, to the Yakima Police Department and the City Prosecutor’s Office. Thank you to everyone who spoke up for these chicks!

We wanted to follow up to ensure that the situation was taken seriously, and we’ve since learned some additional details through several phone calls as well as a public records request.

The good news is that the city of Yakima’s Prosecution Division told us in July that criminal animal cruelty charges were forwarded and that they were reviewing the information, with future updates likely at the end of this month.

The incident report and charging documents regarding the customer’s complaint show that the Yakima Police Department filed a charge of second degree animal cruelty for “failure to provide” — i.e., a neglect charge — against the Yakima Co-Op’s retail sales manager who reportedly was responsible for caring for the chicks over the 3-day weekend. 

Those documents, obtained by Lady Freethinker through a public records request, also show that police waited almost a week after receiving the complaint of fatal animal cruelty before investigating it. 

The incident report notes that police received the customer’s complaint on May 30 at 5:05 p.m. but waited until June 6, at 7:42 a.m., to investigate the animal welfare concerns.

The police narrative notes that, “Due to the time of the initial report and the time of our response, we were not able to verify how many chicks had died.”

The store’s general manager identified the chicks as Cornish Cross and reported an estimated retail loss from the chicks’ deaths of $300, according to the public records documents.

Supply catalogues reviewed by Lady Freethinker indicate that farm supply stores typically can purchase Cornish Cross chicks for between $1.50 and $5 each — meaning that it’s likely per the store’s estimates and our calculations that at least 60 to 200 chicks died.

This case must be taken seriously. 

The store’s general manager noted to police that the store closed Saturday at 4 p.m. and opened the following Tuesday at 8 a.m., that the business “did not make arrangements” when the retail sales manager was out of town that weekend, and that the situation was “an oversight on their part.”

While the manager advised police “they would never do this intentionally,” scores of chicks are still dead.

Washington State law, and the Yakima Municipal Code, are very clear on what constitutes criminal animal neglect. 

If you haven’t already, please sign our petition urging the Yakima City Prosecutor to treat this case with the severity it deserves and hold all individuals accountable for the preventable deaths of these chicks. 

We will keep watching this case.

SIGN: Justice for Dead Chicks Reportedly Tossed in Dumpster at Store