Watch: Company Caught on Video Drowning Live Pigeons for Student Dissection Charged with 25 Counts of Animal Cruelty

A company that provides dead animals for study and dissection is facing 25 charges of animal cruelty due to the way they allegedly killed the animals. If found guilty, the owners could face up to $25,000 in fines and/or up to six years in jail.

As Newsweek reported in November, the biological supply company Bio Corporation was the subject of hidden video and an investigation into their practices. The video, shown above, was secretly recorded by an undercover representative from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. The footage showed workers at the company's Alexandria, Minnesota, facility apparently drowning fully-conscious pigeons, injecting live crayfish with latex and claiming that they sometimes would freeze turtles to death. The complaint, The State of Minnesota vs. Bio Company BDA Bio Corporation, claims that these methods are inhumane and illegal.

The company says that most of the animals they acquire are brought to them already dead. But according to the undercover video, the company was obtaining some live animals and killing them at the facility in ways that the US Department of Agriculture consider illegal.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, Bill Wadd, co-owner of Bio-Corporation, said, "We understand that we were the subject of an undercover sting-type investigation," he wrote. "Unfortunately, the animals observed in that investigation, including the pigeons and the crayfish, put our operation in a bad light."

PETA took the video to the local police department, and then to a district judge, who insisted that the Alexandria police investigate. Newsweek published the footage on November 21, 2017, and the following day the Alexandria Police Department sent a detective to interview the owners of Bio Corporation and investigate the facility. The Alexandria Police Department did not immediately respond to an interview request for this article.

Officials reviewed the complaint, the affidavit from the undercover witness of the alleged abuse, the video and testimony from the detective who visited the facility. On December 29, 2017, they filed 25 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty, specifically regarding treatment of the crayfish and pigeons, against the company. 

Pigeon Donny Leonardi on Flickr

Wadd said the company obtains pigeons ethically and euthanizes them humanely. Situated in an agricultural area, Bio Corporation collects pigeons from people who legally kill or capture them in order to protect their avian livestock, like turkeys, chickens, ducks and geese from diseases that pigeons can spread. The pigeons are usually dead when they get there, but sometimes the workers kill them, according to Wadd.

"We have a policy to euthanize these birds with gas but actually water submersion is a better and arguably more humane method because of the short time necessary to complete the process," Wadd wrote. 

Wadd said that the birds die after only 10 to 20 seconds. But drowning is not considered an acceptable form of euthanasia, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), because it causes unnesseary suffering. The AVMA has standards of humane euthanasia that legally must be followed by certain USDA-certified companies such as Bio Corporation. 

"That said, we are using the gas now because of the complaint," Wadd added. He also wrote that they intend to order only dead crayfish from now on.

Representatives for the company are due in court on January 31, 2018. They continue to sell pigeons online for between $9.85 and $12.15 each.

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