Christmas Has Become A Festival Of Cruelty — The Peak Of Animal Abuse

An Animal Rights Article from


Chas Newkey-Burden,
December 2018

This time of year can be grueling for vegans, whose compassion is mocked and treated as a nuisance. But it’s worse for the animals who can’t escape exploitation.

free range Turkey
Free range, organic turkey at a small farm in Canada, 2006 (Photo: We Animals)

It’s often said that turkeys wouldn’t vote for Christmas. But why would any animal put a tick in that box? The 12 days have become a festival of cruelty – the annual peak of human abuse of animals.

The exploitation begins at Christmas fetes. Reindeers endure long journeys to these events across the country. The Born Free Foundation says the journeys and the shows themselves cause huge suffering for the reindeers. Animal Aid recently filmed undercover at UK reindeer centers and documented abuses, including a worker repeatedly kicking a reindeer.

Horses and camels are sometimes dragged along to these fetes, too. Like reindeers, they are sensitive animals who should be free and joyful in the wild, not used as props to be paraded around in chains for human entertainment at festive circuses.

Meanwhile, puppies are arriving in the UK to meet Christmas demand. The Dogs Trust says that thousands of puppies are illegally smuggled in at this time of year. They are shipped in shocking conditions: puppies as young as four weeks old spend protracted journeys eating their own feces as they are smuggled in cramped crates.

For dogs, Christmas can be a time of rejection. However much we are reminded that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas, many will be unwanted as presents. Within days they are dumped at refuges, or simply left tied on the street. Dogs and other pets are often left at home for long periods at this time of year, as people travel to far-flung family get-togethers.

The centerpiece of these get-togethers is usually the turkey and the pig. Once everyone has stuffed themselves with so much food that they feel sick, the leftovers are scraped into the bin. If killing animals to eat them is dreadful, then killing animals to not eat them is surely even worse.

More than 14 million turkeys were killed in the UK last year – two million of them in December. Most spent their short lives in crowded industrial sheds and were never allowed to go outside. Countless abuses have been exposed at British turkey farms, including workers playing baseball with turkeys at a Bernard Matthews farm.

Between the ages of just eight weeks and 26 weeks, turkeys are sent to the slaughterhouse. They are hung upside down by their legs and have their throats slit. Or they are killed with gas, or by strangulation. You won’t see that on the supermarkets’ Christmas ads.

Alongside turkey on the Christmas dinner plate is a new favorite: pigs in blankets. The pig’s route to the plate is no happier. About 60 percent of sows reared in the UK are kept in metal crates which are just centimetres bigger than them. Little piglets have their ears punctured, teeth clipped, and tails cut without anaesthetic before being grown to the required size. One-third of pigs in the UK are slaughtered in gas chambers.

From the factory farm to the gas chamber, to the shop to the dinner table to the bin – the lives, and deaths, of these animals shame humanity. But then what Christmas has become is nothing to be proud of either.

From early November, shop are crammed with ‘gift’ ideas that are little more than brainless fops – tacky, plastic-bound, panic buys with just a tenuous connection to the recipient. Rather than being imaginative, heartfelt gestures, they scream ‘That’ll do’ and demean the giver, the recipient, and the festival itself.

It’s a festival that can be a particularly challenging time for vegans. At family meals, there is often one tipsy, bored relative who treats our compassion as an irritant or a joke. As meals are planned, for 12 days, we will repeatedly be seen as the ‘difficult’ one because we won’t eat the corpses of traumatized animals.

But at least as humans can choose how much of modern Christmas we buy into. For animals there is no way out – and many face a final terror on New Year’s Eve, as firework displays terrify pets and wild animals alike.

The compassion and godliness of this religious festival have been lost. In fact, at this time of year, I am reminded of a quote from William Ralph Inge:

We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.

Horrifying footage captures torment of turkeys at ‘ethical’ free range farm as £130 birds are kicked, crushed and stuffed in crates for slaughter

  • Undercover footage showed the turkeys being rounded up at a farm in Essex
  • Some 2,500 birds were placed into crates and loaded into trucks for slaughter 
  • The footage appears to show some of the turkeys being abused by staff
  • Animal Defenders International filmed the birds being rounded up in Essex  

Video footage of turkeys being thrown, crushed, kicked and crammed into crates by farm hands has painted a grim picture of the truth behind Christmas dinner.

Free range turkeys are promoted to shoppers as ethically produced because they are allowed to roam free, scratch around in the dirt and eat a natural diet.

As such, the farmers involved are able to charge a premium price of anything from £70 to over £130 for a single bird.

Horrifying footage from ‘ethical’ free range turkey farm

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Animal Defenders International went undercover at a turkey farm in Essex where they filmed more than 2,500 birds being rounded up by a gang of catchers over a three-hour period

The turkeys were being loaded up into crates and placed on trucks to go to slaughter

The turkeys were being loaded up into crates and placed on trucks to go to slaughter

The animal welfare organisation claimed some of the birds had been mistreated 

The animal welfare organisation claimed some of the birds had been mistreated

However, undercover footage from a turkey farm in Essex reveals a worrying picture of the catching process as the fully grown turkeys are crammed into crates to be taken away by lorry for slaughter.

Over a three-hour period, a gang of catchers was secretly filmed rounding up more than 2,500 of the birds.

The undercover footage was captured by investigators from Animal Defenders International, which says the treatment of the turkeys appears to contradict guidelines issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

ADI claimed that up to nine of the large turkeys were crammed into a single crate, which is against Defra guidelines.

The footage shows workers grabbing turkeys by their wings, necks and a single leg, which is at odds with recommendations from the Humane Slaughter Association. Birds are thrown into the crates, trapping wings and other body parts, instead of being lowered gently.

Some of those working with the turkeys appeared to kick them to force them into a crate

One bird that attempts to escape is grabbed by the neck and slammed head first into a crate. A worker is seen swinging what appears to be a dead turkey like a club, hitting other birds as they try to run away.

Other workers kick turkeys or use their full weight to cram the flapping birds into the already full crates, risking injury to the wings, legs, neck and head.

The ADI investigation of the turkey barn in East Hanningfield, Essex, was carried out over two weeks from November 20 to December 3, using hidden cameras. The loading of more than 2,500 turkeys was documented on November 28.

The president of ADI, Jan Creamer, who advocates veganism, said: ‘Free range does not mean cruelty free.’ The campaign group has sent its findings to the Animal Plant & Health Agency, which investigates such incidents, and to Food and Farming Minister George Eustice.

Andrew Knight, professor of animal welfare and ethics at the University of Winchester, said: ‘I was disgusted to see the violent treatment of these turkeys.

‘Fractures and serious injuries would have been inevitable, as well as extreme levels of stress and fear. There is no excuse for such cruelty.’


Ivanka Trump’s children, Joseph and Arabella, requested a vegetarian
thanksgiving after watching the president – their grandfather – pardon the
Thanksgiving turkeys this year.

Presidents and turkeys go way back, with reports of gifts of the animal
being sent to the White House dating back to 1870. However, it was in 1989
– when George H.W. Bush was the American head of state – that the White
Houses’ official turkey pardoning ceremony tradition was cemented.

According to White House History
after being presented with a turkey – wary of animal rights activists
picketing nearby – Bush stated, *“Let me assure you, and this fine tom
turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy —
he’s granted a Presidential pardon as of right now — and allow him to live
out his days on a children’s farm not far from here.”*

This year, it was the turn of turkeys Peas and Carrots to be pardoned by
the President
and his grandchildren were quite taken with the pair. According to Trump
who posted pictures of Arabella, Joseph, and Theodore meeting the turkeys
on her Instagram account, *“After watching their Grandpa pardon Peas and
Carrots at the White House on Tuesday, Joseph and Arabella have sworn off
turkey and are insisting on a vegetarian Thanksgiving!”*

The children are not alone in asking for a turkey-free holiday. A number of
celebrities urged their fans to leave meat off the table this year,
including star of “The Big Bang Theory” Kaley Cuoco.

In a video for the animal rescue organization Farm Sanctuary, the
vegetarian actor said, *“Each year 46 million turkeys
<> are
inhumanely raised and slaughtered for Thanksgiving. The majority of these
birds are raised on factory farms, which are linked to numerous
environmental problems hurting us and our planet.”*

Filmmaker Kevin Smith

who turned vegan at the beginning of this year following a heart attack –
also asked consumers to consider choosing a cruelty-free option over a
turkey ahead of this years’ Thanksgiving
Speaking to two of the animals – again in a video for Farm Sanctuary –
Smith, who appeared alongside his daughter Harley Quinn, said, *“You have
my solemn word ladies, I will never eat another turkey. And I will go out
of my way to see that others might not as well.”*

Remembering Dear Turkeys – Two Short Videos Show Different Worlds

*The Sheds Were Already Empty*

Thanksgiving Tragedy: A Visit to a Turkey Farm

A group of UPC activists in Northern California wanted to go to a turkey
farm a
few days before Thanksgiving to pay their respects to the birds destined for
slaughter. When they arrived, they were heartbroken to find they were too
the sheds were empty, and there was nothing but a sprinkling of white
and silence. Please watch and share this important video and witness the
of this heart wrenching holiday:


*UPC Hosts Happy Thanksgiving for Turkeys: CBS Channel 9 Eyewitness News

UPC Thanksgiving Dinner for Turkeys

Forty people attended a festive Thanksgiving celebration at UPC in honor of
Wanda and Willow, two rescued factory farm turkey hens adopted from Farm
Sanctuary. Washington, DC’s CBS channel 9 provided excellent coverage of our
dinner as did local radio stations and The Potomac Almanac newspaper. Allan
read aloud to an entranced audience including Wanda, *’Twas the Night
*THANKSGIVING*, by Dav Pilkey, giving thousands of TV viewers a chance to
see a
turkey enjoying herself in friendly company. PSYeta president Ken Shapiro’s
Joel, contributed a wonderful story about three turkey gobblers who got

As for us –

*”We feasted on veggies *
*With jelly and toast, *
*And everyone was thankful *
*(The turkeys were most!).”*

For more information see: ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes
the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.
Don’t just switch from beef to chicken. Go Vegan.

View this article online

How to lower your environmental footprint when preparing your Thanksgiving meal

An estimated 46 million turkeys are killed each year for Thanksgiving alone, but more people are switching to a plant-based Thanksgiving meal not only for the animals, but for their health and the environment.

Transitioning to a plant-based meal doesn’t mean you have miss out on any Thanksgiving treats; you can easily make a few simple tweaks to your favorite recipes.

A plant-based diet is the best for the environment and it is extremely healthy as it is linked with the lowest risks of chronic diseases, compared to diets rich in meats, according to research from the World Health Organization and studies published in Environmental Research Letters.

An outbreak of salmonella linked to raw turkey has left one person dead, 63 people hospitalized and sickened 164, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, Nov. 8.

“The outbreak strain of Salmonella Reading has been identified in various raw turkey products, including ground turkey and turkey patties,” the CDC said.

Starting this eating style at Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to do so, as it is a time of reflection, kindness and gratitude. Plus, all of the leftovers won’t go bad as quickly.


Eating plant-based foods also contributes less to the livestock sector of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Vegan alternatives are widely available these days so it’s easy to ‘veganise’ dishes by replacing non-vegan ingredients with cruelty-free counterparts, such as meat substitutes, vegan cream and butter, or egg-free desserts,” Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, said.

Tofurky offers a turkey roast, ham and a feast with gravy and stuffing. It is made from ingredients such as wheat, water, organic tofu, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, leek and more. This alternative is healthy, doesn’t add grease or fat, doesn’t go bad as quickly and is a smaller portion.



Thanks to our beer buddies @HopworksBeer our Plant-Based Ham Style Roast is smothered by a Velvety Beer Glaze… we YUM IT UP. @theveganchalboard 👌 

See Tofurky’s other Tweets

Erin Ransom, director of marketing for Tofurky said the Tofurky Roast is healthier for the planet because it uses less water and has less energy requirements. Animal welfare is also a plus and human health is a big component because there is less saturated fat and cholesterol with great protein and fiber content, Ransom said.

“When compared to animal protein, the Tofurky roast is cholesterol free, a good source of fiber and an excellent source of protein,” Ransom said.

Plant-based protein requires much less energy to produce.

“For example, a Tofurky roast requires 5.5 lbs less grains than it takes to feed a live turkey, who produces the equivalent 26 oz of animal protein, for one’s dinner table,” Ransom said.

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Field Roast also offers plant-based holiday roasts for the ultimate grain-and-veggie main course.

“The World Resources Institute predicts that by 2025 at least 3.5 billion people will experience water shortages. It takes 815 gallons to make one pound of turkey, while one pound of soy beans, which are used to make a Tofurky roasts, uses just 242 gallons,” Ransom said.

It’s easy to switch since sides are typically vegetarian and vegan, such as baked stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, cranberries and pumpkin pie, Sharon Palmer, award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist, plant-based food and nutrition expert, author and blogger, said.

“If you are going vegan, you can make sure to make vegan versions of these recipes, which is super simple. Often the main problem is butter and dairy, but you can sub vegan margarine or olive oil for butter, and plant-based milk for milk in recipes. You can even use vegan cheese in many recipes, such as broccoli au gratin,” Palmer said.

Then, all you have to do is perhaps add one entree to the mix, such as veggie “meat” balls, nut loaf or lentil patties, according to Palmer.

VegNews Magazine@VegNews

Don’t want to cook this ? You don’t have to! Check out these 5 vegan meal options we’ll be trying out this holiday season. >> 

See VegNews Magazine’s other Tweets

Research consistently shows that vegetarians and especially vegans have the lowest environmental footprint, compared to other diets. That’s because animal foods have a greater environmental impact, because we grow plants to feed the animals, so it’s much greener to just eat the plants directly,” Palmer said.

Animals produce methane and concentrated sources of manure, and farms contribute to deforestation and require more water than plants.

“Heart disease is far and away the leading cause of death and disability is the U.S. A recent study shows vegetarian dietary patterns reduce cardiovascular disease mortality and the risk of coronary heart disease by a whopping 40 percent,” doctor and nutrition expert Janet Brill said.

Even if you don’t want to go completely plant-based, making a significant cut of animal foods in your diet and eating more whole plant foods makes a big difference, according to experts.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith for Adopt a Turkey

Watch Kevin and Harley Quinn Smith for AAT
This viral video has already appeared in media outlets ranging from Page Six to Men’s Health, raising awareness around Adopt a Turkey and the unnecessary slaughter of 46 million turkeys for Thanksgiving alone. The Smiths’ words and our shared vision are inspiring an impassioned dialogue about the health benefits of a vegan diet and the need to break the chain of unhealthy, unsustainable traditions.

Let’s make this Thanksgiving our most successful season in changing hearts and minds while raising vital funds for Farm Sanctuary’s continued rescue, education, and advocacy work on behalf of turkeys and farm animals just like them.

We’re honored to have Kevin and Harley Quinn on our team as spokespersons this year as we are reaching more people than ever with the 33rd annual Adopt a Turkey Project.

Thank you for putting compassion first this Thanksgiving and every day!


Farm Sanctuary
Harley Quinn Smith for AAT

Seven new rules every Washington hunter should know this fall


Th, Sept. 20, 2018, 5 a.m.

Paul Degel, 39, fires his 54-caliber Leman Trade Rifle, a common flintlock from the early 1800s, in early Oct., 2005, near his home west of Sheridan, Montana. Degel killed his first deer with a muzzleloader at age 14 and was hooked. Twenty-five years, nearly a dozen elk and more than two dozen deer taken with a flintlock later, Degel said his passion for the only type of weapon he hunts big game with has only grown. (NICK GEVOCK / AP)

New rules. New regulations. A new fall hunting season.

Each year the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife examines its hunting rules and regulations and makes changes. Making sense of those changes can be hard. We’re here to help. Below are seven important changes every hunter should know. Changes include increased deer opportunities in Northeast Washington, new black powder primer options, more fall turkey opportunities (and regulations) and new requirements for black bear hunters.

Turkey hunters must wear orange

Turkey hunters must now wear hunter orange while hunting during a modern deer or elk firearm season.

In the past, turkey season did not overlap with the modern firearm season. An extended turkey season now means there is considerable overlap. With all other species, hunters must already wear orange when hunting during a modern firearm season.

Not including turkey hunters on that list was an oversight, said Kevin Robinette, WDFW regional wildlife manager in Spokane

Of the hunters who commented on this change, 37 supported it while 21 opposed. Those who opposed worried that the bright color would make it harder to successfully hunt the keen-sighted birds.

“When it comes to turkey hunting, if you sit still, if you’re doing what you’re supposed to do as a turkey hunter, it shouldn’t matter,” said Matt Mimnaugh, a board member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the chairman of the big game committee. “And on the bright side of that very small inconvenience, we are now able to hunt turkeys all fall.”

Turkey season extended

Which brings us to the next change. The fall turkey season now runs Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, Robinette said. That’s significantly longer than in the past, when the season ran from Sept. 23 to Oct. 31.

The extended season is partially in response to continued conflicts between turkeys and farmers and an ever-increasing population, Robinette said.

“This will be an opportunity for sport hunters to actually help out with that problem,” he said.

Antlerless deer opportunities in NE Washington

Archers and black powder hunters now have early- and late-season opportunities to hunt antlerless deer in Game Management Units 101 through 121 (Northeast Washington), Robinette said.

Although it’s too late to apply this fall, modern rifle hunters are now able to apply for an antlerless deer tag.

“That’s something we haven’t had in a long time,” he said.

Montana, Mississippi added to list of CWD-positive states

In the ongoing effort to halt the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, the WDFW has banned the importation and retention of “specific parts of dead nonresident wildlife that could contain CWD” from Montana and Mississippi.

Specifically, hunters may only bring meat that has been deboned, skulls and antlers from which all soft tissue has been removed, and hides or capes without heads attached.

The rule change comes on the heels of Montana confirming the existence of the deadly neurological disease in 2017. WDFW received 20 comments supporting the change. Five hunters opposed the change.

“I think any restrictions they put on that (CWD) is a good thing,” Mimnaugh said. “We obviously don’t want to see that spreading into our state.”

Modern primers allowed on muzzle-loaders

More modern primers will be allowed during black-powder season. The WDFW Commission requested that the agency survey hunters on the proposal. The majority of hunters who responded favored the change.

Hunters will now be allowed to use primers for modern centerfire cartridges during muzzle-loader season. Those primers are more moisture-resistant, Mimnaugh said. Although some purists believe a more modern primer goes against the spirit of a primitive hunt, Mimnaugh doesn’t see it that way and believes it could help hunters make cleaner, more ethical kills.

He imagines a situation in which a hunter shoots, but does not kill, an animal. With a traditional black-powder primer, it may not be possible for the hunter to get another shot off and cleanly finish the kill if it’s raining or damp out.

“I don’t think it’s giving them an unfair advantage,” he said.

Of those hunters surveyed, 148 supported the proposal, 77 opposed it and five were neutral.

Grizzly bear ID test required

Starting in 2018, black bear hunters will need to take an online grizzly bear identification test if they want to hunt in Game Management Units known to have grizzly bears.

Idaho and Montana require black-bear hunters to take the short test, Robinette said.

After successfully taking the test, hunters must print out a card certifying their completion and carry the card during their hunts.

Although some might grumble at the increased regulation, Mimnaugh said the new rule is nothing but good.

“I fully support that,” he said. “Any time you’re given an opportunity to educate yourself, and someone is willing to give you that information and make you a better hunter, why not do that?”

Drones added to list of prohibited aircraft

WDFW added drones to the list of aircraft that hunters are not allowed to use during a hunt. Using aircraft, boats or other vehicles to assist in a hunt is already prohibited under Washington’s administrative code.

Drones are now added to that list. WDFW may still authorize certain individuals or organizations to use drones.

Eighty-two hunters supported the change in written comments, while 14 opposed it.

Hunter mistakes friend for turkey, shoots him

Ted Lidie demonstrates two types of turkey calls. Lidie leads the local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s JAKES program that teaches young people to hunt. Sean Longoria


A hunter suffered minor injuries when he was shot by a companion who mistook him for a turkey, Maryland Natural Resources Police said.

Police said James Henry Gilbert, 67, and Dennis Eugene Yoder, 66, of Parkton, Maryland, were hunting on leased Chesapeake Forest Land near Bell Road in Whaleyville on Saturday, Jan. 20, when the incident happened.

As was their practice, the two men split up. They ended up setting up to hunt within 50 yards of each other, with the line of sight obstructed by several small trees and brush, according to an NRP news release.

Yoder saw movement, thought he saw the red and white coloring of a turkey and fired his 12-guage shotgun, police said. Gilbert yelled that he was hit.

Driven by Yoder, Gilbert was treated at Dorchester General Hospital for shotgun pellet wounds to his head, legs and hand and then released.

The case is under review by the Worcester County State’s Attorney for possible charges, the release said.

NY Times Editorial: There’s a grim reality behind your Thanksgiving turkey

Observing an annual pre-Thanksgiving rite, President Trump pardoned two big white fluffy turkeys Tuesday in a photo op at the White House. (Named Drumstick and Wishbone, the birds will end up at an enclosure on the campus of Virginia Tech.) That leaves 46 million other turkeys that won’t get pardoned. Instead, they’ll wind up on someone’s dinner table during this holiday season, a fate that is expected to befall about 245 million gobblers all told this year. And none of them will make the journey from farm to table via the Willard InterContinental Hotel, where Drumstick and Wishbone hung out before Drumstick was ceremoniously presented to Trump.

No animals raised on factory farms are kept and killed under worse conditions than turkeys and chickens, which make up most of the animals raised for food in the U.S. Nearly 9 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for food. And because poultry is exempt from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces, there are not even minimum federal standards governing how they live or die.

Turkeys and so-called broiler chickens are genetically bred to grow fast (to satisfy our love for breast meat) and, typically, grow so big that they can barely walk by the time they are killed. As a result, they can suffer from painful skeletal disorders and leg deformities. The vast majority spend their short lives (about 47 days for chickens) in artificially lit, windowless, barren warehouse barns. So that turkeys won’t peck one another in these crowded barns, their beaks are painfully trimmed.

When it’s time to slaughter them, the live birds are shackled upside down on a conveyor belt, paralyzed by electrified water and then dragged over mechanical throat-cutting blades. The birds are supposed to be stunned unconscious by the electrified water, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the birds miss the blades and end up tumbling into the tanks of scalding water, where they drown. These methods are so cruel that they would be prohibited by federal welfare laws — if the animals in question were cows or pigs.

These are the grim realities behind Americans’ traditional Thanksgiving meal. But there are ways to make life and death somewhat better for the turkeys that wind up on your table. Of course, we could all just eat less turkey and chicken, which would reduce the demand for these animals. But to make a bigger impact, the major buyers of chicken and turkey meat need to push their suppliers to adopt less grisly practices.

The Humane Society of the U.S. has launched a campaign to get producers to pledge to raise healthier, less bloated birds, to provide them with better living conditions — more space, more stimulating environments and more sunlight — and, perhaps most important, to render the birds unconscious before they are shackled and slaughtered. The campaign also seeks to persuade buyers to obtain meat only from producers that honor this pledge. Meanwhile, Temple Grandin, the animal science professor known for designing more humane procedures for slaughtering beef cattle, has called for “controlled atmosphere stunning,” a process of using gas to make the birds unconscious before they get shackled for slaughter.

Installing new procedures takes time and money. All the buyers and producers that have signed on to the Humane Society campaign have agreed to fully convert to a new system by 2024. Companies should be held to that time frame, and more should be encouraged to take that pledge. If enough consumers demand it, companies will do it. That’s not too much to ask for the sake of the bird you’ll be carving up on Thanksgiving.

(Compassionate) Turkey Preparation 101

Wash your turkey
Dry well
Add a little water
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Happy Turkey Day!

Yours and all animals,’
Karen Dawn
DawnWatch Inc