PETA to protest KFC by flying banner over beach

MYRTLE BEACH -- Animal rights group PETA plans to fly a banner over local beaches today that says "Boycott KFC Cruelty" in hopes of getting the restaurant chain to change the way it breeds and kills chickens, PETA announced.

An airplane will tow the banner over 55 miles of beach from noon to 3 p.m., covering Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Garden City Beach.

The effort comes after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals got the Kentucky Fried Chicken's Canada division to agree to use a method of slaughter called controlled-atmosphere killing, which PETA said painlessly puts the birds to sleep, and to offer a faux-chicken vegetarian sandwich.

But PETA is still critical of the way that Yum Brands, KFC's parent company in the U.S., raises and kills the birds.

They say that the birds are drugged to grow too fast and become crippled under the weight of their upper bodies, that birds are killed while still conscious and that many are scalded in defeathering tanks.

Louisville, Ky.-based KFC Corp. said in a statement on its Web site that the restaurant chain has strict animal welfare standards for all its suppliers.

"We receive our chicken from the very same suppliers as other fast food companies and supermarkets," it says. "The industry has been working with these suppliers to explore alternative methods of stunning. We look forward to learning whether our Canadian franchisee's action has any positive benefit on the humane treatment of poultry."

There are about 15 KFCs on the Grand Strand.