People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals submitted a complaint against Linda Bean's Maine Lobster to Knox County District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau and Rockland Police Chief Bruce Boucher.

The group seeks a criminal investigation into what it sees as cruelty to lobsters and crabs being processed in Rockland. PETA submitted video it claims was recorded at the Linda Bean plant.

The video shows workers in a kitchen or processing plant ripping the legs, heads and shells off live lobsters, leaving them to lie writhing in bins, and breaking apart conscious crabs' shells with sharp spikes. The organizations says these practices violate Maine's cruelty-to-animals statute, which prohibits "intentionally … kill[ing] … an animal by a method that does not cause instantaneous death."

The state law does not exempt cruelty to crustaceans, PETA argues.

Deputy Police Chief Wally Tower confirmed his department received the complaint Sept. 18. He said the matter has been turned over to the District Attorney's office to determine what, if anything, should be done.

Attorney Steve Hayes, representing Linda Bean's Perfect Maine lobster company, said, in previous comments, there is nothing in the video directly confirming that the plant in the video is Linda Bean's in Rockland.

He said Linda Bean's plant meets or exceeds all industry standards and does not violate the state's cruelty to animals statute. He said the plant puts out a safe, high-quality product.

"Our practices are not any different than any other processors in Maine or Canada," he said.

"PETA would rather lobsters and crabs were left in peace, but there's no excuse for a big company — with the ability to kill them instantly — to kill them cruelly instead," said PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch in a news release. "Maine's laws need to be enforced when it comes to prosecuting those who are dismembering and mutilating any live animals."

PETA's nine-page complaint cites 38 incidents captured on video during its investigation and opinions of Dr. Bjørn Roth, who described LBML's killing method as carving the animal alive, and Dr. Robert Elwood, who described the process as extreme, according to a news release from PETA.

The group also cites a scientific report prepared for the European Commission that concluded that lobsters and crabs have a pain system, and that tearing the animals apart while they are still alive and fully conscious is likely to cause pain and distress.

Other lobster-processing plants use less cruel methods of killing the animals, such as hydrostatic pressure — the method used at Shucks Maine Lobster in Richmond, PETA states in its press release.