North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services suspended for two weeks without pay the veterinarian that attempted to tip Butterball officials about abuse taking place in their Shannon, NC facility. Director of Public Affairs for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Brian Long:
"We did our own review, a personnel review of the facts in this situation and based on that ,we took action in the form of a suspension. Dr. Mason will be required to attend some ethics training courses and she also is going to be required to have monthly meetings with her supervisor to review the contacts she has with the industry.
Dr. Sarah Mason said she acted on her own when she reached out to a fellow veterinarian so as to immediately curtail any avian abuse…that and much more played into NCDA’s decision according to Long:
"We reviewed a lot of information and based on the facts that we uncovered, this was the appropriate action in our mind. The fact that she was remorseful about what she had done; the fact that she derived no personal gain from her actions; the fact that what she actually passed along to the veterinarian at Butterball was, in the grand scheme of things, a very small amount of informaiton. What she mentioned was that she was aware that there was an undercover video that had been done by an animal rights group and she was aware that the video had been turned over to law enforcement."
Plus, it came to the attention of the department that Mercy for Animals had already posted their video on an online video sharing website:
"We learned that the video was online on December 23, and I believe the raid did not take place for close to a week after that. That also was something that we had to take into account as well -- that the information was out there, the information that Dr. Mason was privy to -- was out there on another platform, so to speak."
Late yesterday afternoon, Hoke County officials charged Dr. Mason with obstruction of the investigation.