"Unhappy Meals" featuring a knife-wielding Ronald McDonald and bloody rubber chickens are upsetting parents who say the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are unfairly targeting their kids at McDonald's restaurants across the country.
PETA's "McCruelty Campaign" has ruffled the feathers of moms and dads in Albany who say they don't want their kids exposed to any throat-slitting chickens or pictures of slaughtered poultry.
"I don't want my son to be around something like this. This is not fair for a child," Stephaine Gipson told FOX23 News in Albany.
"I think it's unhappy that they target children," said parent Michelle Natale.
But the animal rights activists say kids are jaded enough by television and video games to handle the carnographic images, and intend to continue their campaign pressuring McDonald's to use more humane means of killing chickens.
"I think children and adults deserve to be told the truth — and that's that behind Ronald McDonald's smile is cruelty to animals," said PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt.
Rajt said most parents are usually troubled by what PETA calls McDonald's cruel treatment of chickens, and said that kids who "naturally empathize" with animals enjoy PETA's presence outside the Golden Arches.
"Kids are usually very excited to see the free T-shirts and they like our person in the chicken constume," Rajt said, referring either to the furry, friendly chick that visits some chains, or the full-grown fowl with murder in its eyes.
A representative for McDonald's defended the franchise, saying it supports the use of a stunning technique that numbs its chickens before they are slaughtered.
"McDonald's works with leading independent animal welfare experts and makes decisions based upon science to promote continuous improvement in animal welfare as part of our broader sustainable supply chain initiatives," said Bob Langert, McDonald's vice president of corporate social responsibility, in a statement to the blog Slashfood.