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Yakima Police Department: [email protected] ; Washington Department of Agriculture: Amber Betts: [email protected] ; Yakima Co-Op: https://yakimacoop.com/

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PETITION TARGETS: Yakima Police Department, Washington Department of Agriculture, Yakima Co-Op, City of Yakima Criminal Prosecution Division

UPDATE (7/7/2023): Lt. Chad Stephens told Lady Freethinker that the Yakima Police Department opened an investigation and has forwarded the case to the city of Yakima Prosecutor’s Office, and public records documents show a second degree animal cruelty charge against one individual. The documents also show that the police, who received the customer’s complaint about fatal animal neglect on May 30 at 5:05 p.m., waited until June 6 at 7:42 a.m. to visit the store, with the incident report noting “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 told police the store shut down  at 4 p.m. on May 24 and re-opened on May 30 at 8 a.m. and estimated to police that the chick deaths totaled a retail loss of $300. With stores typically able to purchase chicks for re-sale at an estimated $1.50 to $5 each, that means that between 60 and 200 chicks likely died. This case must not be blown off.

We’ve since sent our petition to the city prosecutor, to treat this case with the severity it deserves and spoke with a staff member, who said our petition had been received, the case is still under review, and that they are hoping to make a decision in the next month. We’ll continue to seek updates on this case. — Lady Freethinker Staff

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Dozens of tiny chicks were dead and in a dumpster, while more were gasping for breath and slowly dying, at a store in Yakima, Washington, after reportedly not being given water or care over the 3-day Memorial Day weekend.

A customer who stopped in to the Yakima Co-Op after the long weekend documented clusters of cheeping, bedraggled-looking chicks walking among dead and dying birds in at least two enclosures — with the footage showing at least 10 birds who appeared deceased or were in the process of dying.

The video shows a cluster of chicks scurrying away from the customer over the corpse of a desiccated-looking bird. Another part of the video shows a chick lying motionless except for the animal’s beak, which opens intermittently to pull in a shuddering gasp. 

When the customer asked a store employee what had happened, the employee reportedly said that the person who was supposed to work “didn’t come in to check on them” and that the chicks reportedly had not been given any water.

But that’s not where the reported neglect ends, as the store opened at 8 a.m. and the store employees reportedly weren’t aware of the dead and dying chicks until the customer alerted them in the late afternoon, according to the customer.

The Yakima Co-Op told Lady Freethinker (LFT) via an emailed statement that the Cornish Cross birds were out of water but  alive on the Tuesday morning after Memorial Day weekend and that a warehouse employee reportedly filled their waterers at that time. The employee then reportedly found that the birds had “gotten themselves wet” and flocked to the heat light and trampled each other — which the business said caused “a pile of what appeared to be dead chicks.”

“We did lose chicks, but our employee was able to transfer many of them chicks to a dry pen and put them under a heat light and many of them were saved,” the business said via email.

Photos submitted to LFT by the customer show a mass of tiny, fluffy bodies in a dumpster, with motionless wings, legs, and tiny heads akimbo.

Dead Chicks in Dumpster

Dead Chicks in Dumpster at Yakima Co-Op (Submitted)

Chicks are sentient and intelligent animals who can feel pain, fear and distress — and they did not deserve to die these prolonged and preventable deaths.

The Yakima Municipal Code requires that people who keep birds provide them with proper food, water, and keep them in a humane manner. 

Washington State’s animal cruelty law also establishes as a crime any act in which people fail to provide animals with necessary water, resulting in unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain as a result.

The Yakima Police Department now has jurisdiction over animal cruelty cases in the city — and it’s crucial that they uphold the laws they are sworn to protect and take this case seriously.

Dead Chicks

More Dead Chicks (Submitted)

Sign our petition urging the police department and state authorities to immediately and thoroughly investigate the chick deaths at this store and forward any applicable charges on to a prosecutor, in addition to pursuing any additional solutions — including but not limited to a license revocation for this store to sell live birds should they be found in violation of state and local laws.

We’re also asking the Yakima Co-Op to take immediate action regarding any person(s) responsible for the deaths of these birds and to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that a preventable situation like this will never happen again.