Animal Place & Harvest Home rescue 4,460 hens
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2012:
TURLOCK, California–“There are still 2,750 hens at our Rescue Ranch facility in Vacaville and 200 hens at our Grass Valley sanctuary. 587 hens have been placed into loving homes,” Animal Place founder Kim Sturla posted on March 28, 2012, a month after volunteers coordinated by Animal Place and the Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary, in Stockton, completed the largest hen rescue on record.
“About a third of the estimated 50,000 hens at A&L Poultry, west of Turlock, died after about two weeks without feed,” John Holland of the Modesto Bee reported on February 22, 2012, a day after the dead and starving hens were discovered. “Company owner Andy Keung Cheung declined to comment when reached by phone. His attorney, Martha Carlton-Magaña, issued a statement on his behalf,” Holland continued.
According to the statement, “A&L Poultry has been in the process of arranging the shutdown of its egg production operations utilizing the industry’s business practices and standards. An attempt to arrange for delivery of the chickens to a third party in order to avoid the usual business practice of euthanizing the chickens resulted in an unacceptable situation A&L Poultry did not intend, and profoundly regrets.”
So-called “spent hens” were until recently sold at live markets in San Francisco, Richmond, and Stockton. But campaigns led by Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Compassion founder Andrew Zollman ended live poultry sales in San Francisco in May 2011, in Richmond in September 2011, and in Stockton in January 2012. This apparently left A&L Poultry without an accessible paying market for the hens.
Stanislaus Animal Services executive director Annette Patton told the Modesto Bee that her agency would seek prosecution of Andy Keung Cheung. At the end of March, however, he had apparently not yet been charged.
Alerted to the crisis by news reports, “Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary and Animal Place were the first on the scene and the last to leave,” said Neighbors Against Backyard Slaughter cofounder Ian Elwood. “Animal Place showed up with almost the entire staff, and devoted its entire facility to helping the hens. After a rescue window of only two days, the remainder of the hens were killed by state authorities using carbon dioxide gas chambers.”
Posted Animal Place volunteer Roni Seabury, “17,000 hens were already dead when authorities arrived. We were only granted the hens who looked like they were going to make it. We had to work as fast as we could. We would box up the hens, sprinkle food in their boxes, and stack them in a waiting zone until they could be loaded on a trailer.”
Seabury said she worked two 22 hour-long days to help evacuate as many hens as possible. “I couldn’t believe the strength I had with only a few hours of sleep and little to no food,” she said. “After getting the hens to the sanctuaries, we had to take them out of their crates. They were so weak they couldn’t lift their heads.” Some were saved by administration of intervenous fluids. “Sadly, a few just couldn’t hold on any longer,” Seabury recounted.
Altogether, the rescuers removed 4,460 hens, said Harvest Home board member Anne Martin. Four hundred were sent on to Farm Sanctuary in Orlands, California, several hours’ drive to the north.
That left “3,315 hens alive and recovering at our sanctuaries,” Sturla said on February 28. “As you can imagine,” she said, “it has been a heart-wrenching and uplifting five days.”