The state of Washington vs. Keith Amberson, owner of Amberson Egg
Farm in Everett, Washington, has been delayed, and the reason will
shock you! WE NEED LETTERS WRITTEN IMMEDIATELY!
According to Aaron Shields, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Snohomish
County, Keith Amberson's defense attorney is waiting for Dr. Singh
Dhillon, the Washington State University Poultry Veterinarian, to
return from out-of-town to testify in defense of Keith Amberson!
Calls and letters are needed immediately to be sent to Dr. Dhillon's
superior at Washington State University and to the media (details
follow at end).
Background re: Dr. Dhillon:
Prior to rescuing 1000 hens from starvation at Amberson Egg Farm in
Lake Stevens, WA, Pasado's Safe Haven presented similar evidence
fully one year before. Prosecutors declined to charge Amberson
because he claimed "forced molting" caused the death of the birds.
"Forced molting" is an egg production technique used to force the
hens to continue laying eggs by starving them for up to 21 days and
withdrawing water. (Hens do not naturally lay eggs year-round.) Dr.
Dhillon, without examining any of the hens or performing any
necropsies (or visiting the farm) confirmed that the deaths were due
to forced molting, assuring Amberson would not be prosecuted.
Pasado's Safe Haven attempted to claim that moralities of up to 50%
of his flock should not have occurred, despite forced molting, but no
charges were filed (other poultry operations apparently have a 2-10%
mortality after forced molt).
This year, Pasado's Safe Haven (Sultan, Washington) presented
videotape and photographic evidence of the same, deplorable
conditions at the farm, which finally resulted in a prosecution of
second-degree animal cruelty (first degree requires proof of intent).
The evidence showed thousands of dead and dying hens on-site at
Several deceased hens were sent to Dr. Dhillon's lab for necropsies
to determine if starvation was the cause of death. Additional hens
were sent to leading poultry and avian veterinarians in the area. All
of the necropsies, except Dr. Dhillon's, clearly stipulated that
death was due to long-term starvation of the hens. There were
numerous commonalties in the veterinarians' findings that backed up
their conclusions. Dr. Dhillon's determination was that the hens died
due to lack of adaptation to a new environment, following their
removal from a commercial operation. Nobody told Dr. Dhillon that the
hens he necropsied came from a commercial operation. Why did he know
this? We think it is because the hens were in such a horrific state
of health prior to their death and Dr. Dhillon knows that this is
common in commercial operations. For him to suggest that the hens
died because of attempts to save them from their hellish existence at
Amberson's farm indicates that his primary motivation is to protect
the farmer from potential prosecution on animal cruelty charges. As a
veterinarian, Dr. Dhillon is, at the very least, a disgrace to his
profession. We believe that Dr. Dhillon's conduct should be
scrutinized by the state board of veterinarians and questions must be
raised regarding his ability to practice veterinary medicine in the
future. The WSU lab should not be a pulpit for defending blatant
violations of the state's animal cruelty laws.
We implore you to write to Dr. Dhillon's superior and the news media,
as soon as possible. Let them know it's despicable that our tax
dollars are paying for a veterinarian who is defending a poultry
farmer who is considered horrible, even by other poultry farmers!
Please note the following:
- Be polite.
- Remind them that it was a poultry farmer who first witnessed the
horrid condition of the hens and called Pasado's Safe Haven.
- State that, to your knowledge, Dr. Dhillon defended this poultry
farmer last year without examining any of the hens, without visiting
the farm, and without performing any necropsies. How can he offer
professional analysis without any investigatory tools? To our
knowledge, he has not visited the farm since that time, either.
-Describe the fact that video and photographic evidence gathered this
year and seen on the news, showed thousands of dead chickens, in
varying states of decomposition, that were left in cages with live
- Chicken houses were rampant with rats, infesting the feeders of the
hens and eating the dead hens;
- Our tax dollars pay for Dr. Dhillon's work. His statements are in
direct conflict with numerous other avian veterinarians who
conducted necropsies on the dead birds from Amberson's. Why would
- We have heard from Snohomish County prosecutors that half of the Avian
Health Laboratory construction in Puyallup, which Dr. Dhillon heads,
was paid for by the poultry industry! Who does Dr. Dhillon serve?
The people of Washington state or the special interests of the
commercial poultry industry? Who pays his salary? Do Dr. Dhillon
and the WSU lab owe a "debt" of sorts to the state's poultry
industry for subsidizing the construction of the Puyallup lab? Is
any ongoing funding of the lab's operation subsidized by the poultry
industry or is it totally supported by state funds? As the state's
only poultry expert, shouldn't Dr. Dhillon be suggesting standards
for the humane treatment of these animals, including establishing
guidelines for standardizing "forced molts?
Write to: (copy to news departments below)
If you have time: Please write Aaron Shields, the prosecutor working
on this case. He has been excellent. He has devoted countless hours
to learning about the poultry industry and practices such as forced
molting. We are truly impressed with his dedication to prosecuting
this case, which is the first time an egg farmer has ever had to
answer to cruelty charges in Washington State.
Write to: Aaron Shields (copy to his boss, James Krider, as well)
From Susan Michaels, Co-Founder
Pasado's Safe Haven.
November 7, 2000
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
(Trial of Keith Amberson Has Been Delayed)