ZANESVILLE - Wearing nothing but a banner and boots, two female People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protesters stopped Maple Avenue traffic and gathered a crowd of spectators Friday.
PETA Spokeswomen Nicole Matthews, 24, and Lindsey Rajt, 24, as well as several other locals who voluntarily joined them, protested in front of the restaurant as part of PETA's Kentucky Fried Cruelty campaign.
"They're the worst of the worst," Matthews said. "They hide behind their animal welfare experts."
However, KFC Spokesman Rick Maynard said while the company doesn't own any poultry facilities, it does require all suppliers to follow welfare guidelines developed by KFC with leading experts on its Animal Welfare Advisory Council. Yum! Brands, KFC's parent company, does not own, raise or transport animals, but purchases them from suppliers.
Locally, no one from the 2160 Maple Ave. KFC restaurant would comment.
"We buy our quality chickens from the same trusted brands that consumers buy in local supermarkets," Maynard said.
Zanesville Police arrived on the scene shortly after the protest began at 3:30 p.m. to direct traffic and tell those standing in the parking lot they either had to be there to dine or leave.
"We want to let people know that if KFC executives were abusing dogs, cats or even pigs or cows the way they abuse chickens, they would go to jail on felony cruelty animal charges," Matthews said.
She said they protest naked "because it's a fun and creative way to bring light to a serious issue."
"KFC is committed to the well-being and humane treatment of chickens. We're proud of our responsible, industry-leading animal welfare guidelines," Maynard said.
Randy McInerney, a Zanesville High School junior, and Greg Bailey Sr., a Zanesville High School senior, were two of the first to arrive outside of the restaurant.
"Actually, I find it pathetic. They're just drawing attention that has nothing to do with animals," McInerney said, holding a bucket of KFC chicken he had purchased.
"I've been a vegetarian for more than a year and I've never been in a demonstration. I wanted to join and help out," said Lauren Jones, a Maysville High School senior. She stood in the rain beside the two PETA protesters holding one of their signs toward oncoming traffic.
Matthews said another reason they target KFC is because the restaurant "refuses to follow scientists' guidelines and five of their experts have resigned out of frustration."
"KFC is slitting birds throats when they're fully conscious and able to feel pain, and scalding them alive in tanks of hot water meant to remove their feathers when they're already dead," she said.
The PETA duo will continue their tour today, protesting in Dayton.