Seeking Justice for Abandoned Hens: Felony Charges Filed

Written by Erica Meier

Hens

Imagine the misery of being intensively confined day in and day out inside a tiny, overcrowded space with barely enough room to move. Now imagine being stuck there starving and thirsty without food or water, and there’s no way to escape.

This only begins to describe the horror forced upon 50,000 egg-laying hens last year at A & L Poultry, an egg factory farm in Turlock, Calif. In February 2012, the owners reportedly abandoned the facility, and with it, they abandoned the birds, leaving them without food or water. By the time authorities discovered this tragic situation, nearly 20,000 hens had already died. Those who managed to survive were not only suffering from starvation and dehydration, but they were also stuck in cages with the dead and rotting corpses of other birds.

State officials began gassing these surviving birds, and more than 25,000 were killed by the time Animal Place, a California-based farmed animal sanctuary, was able to successfully intervene. This intervention launched the largest rescue operation in the state’s history saving the lives over 4,400 birds. In two days, Animal Place, along with Harvest Home and Farm Sanctuary, dramatically changed the fate of these caged laying hens – from tragedy to sanctuary.

One year later, all of the rescued hens have been adopted out to loving homes with a handful permanently residing at Animal Place. The story of their rescue has been captured on film and is the topic of a powerful new 46-minute documentary released last week by Animal Place (embedded below).

There’s more news worth celebrating on this one year anniversary of the rescue: felony charges of animal cruelty have been filed against the two owners of A & L Poultry. They each face up to three years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.

In addition to the felony cruelty charges, the three sanctuaries involved in the rescue effort along with the assistance of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Schiff Hardin, have filed a historic civil lawsuit against the owners of the facility. The lawsuit seeks to hold A&L Poultry accountable for the costs associated with the monumental rescue of 4,460 hens.

We’ll share updates on both of these case as details are released, so check back often.

While horrific, the suffering forced upon hens on this factory farm is hardly an isolated incident. More than 250 million egg-laying hens in the US are forced to spend their entire lives crammed inside barren wire cages, denied the ability to perform many of their most natural behaviors. Visit EggIndustry.com to learn more and to discover ways you can crack the cruelty by choosing egg-free foods.