Neosho, Mo., Humane Society gets $100,000 in chicken-dumping settlement

? An egg producer agreed to pay the Neosho Humane Society $100,000 Friday following misdemeanor animal abuse charges for the way it disposed of some chickens in southwest Missouri, prosecutors said.

Newton County Prosecutor Scott Watson said the charges that were filed in July against Moark, an employee and two subcontractors had been dismissed. As part of the agreement, Moark officials will install new equipment to euthanize chickens more humanely.

Newton County Sheriff officials began investigating this summer after a man videotaped live chickens being dumped from a conveyer belt into a trash bin at Moark’s facility south of Neosho. Before the video was turned over to authorities, footage of squawking chickens falling into a trash bin had been shown at the Newton County Fair and posted on the Internet.

During the investigation Moark admitted to dumping 200 hens before they were dead, Watson said.

News of the settlement overwhelmed some humane society board members who were desperate for funding for their organization.

“Some of the board members started crying when I told them what I had done,” Watson said.

Pat Lesueur, city clerk and one of the Humane Society’s original board members, said she’s excited. In four years the organization had collected only about $18,000 to build an animal shelter to address numerous stray dogs in Newton and McDonald counties.

Dan Hudgens, Moark’s Midwest regional manager and the employee charged in the case, said the reason live chickens were being dumped was because the aged chickens or “spent hens” did not stay in a barrel of carbon dioxide for the full four minutes needed to kill them before going to a rendering plant. Hudgens said fresh air revived them when they were put on a conveyor belt.

Moark officials have since promised to have a supervisor on site when chickens are destroyed, and the new equipment will end the practice of suffocating chickens in 55-gallon drums.