Owners of Stanislaus County’s A&L Poultry Sued After 50,000 Egg-Laying Hens Left to Starve to Death

Posted on May 17, 2012

Animal Legal Defense Fund Represents Farmed Animal Sanctuaries Who Rescued Almost 4,500 Birds

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Kim Sturla, Animal Place
Meredith Turner, Farm Sanctuary
Christine Morrissey, Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary

Hens left to starve at a factory farmUpdate:

August 21, 2012

Statement on Demurrer and Motion to Strike Rulings

Earlier this year, two Stanislaus County egg farmers abandoned 50,000 hens to die of starvation in one of most shocking displays of animal cruelty in California history. In May, Animal Place, Farm Sanctuary, and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary, the farmed animal sanctuaries that rescued the surviving hens, filed a lawsuit against the farmers, represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Schiff Hardin, seeking recognition of the interests of the hens, and to hold the farmers responsible for their heinous disregard of the hens’ welfare.

On August 20, the Stanislaus County Superior Court allowed the case to move forward over the strong objections of the defendants–the owners of A&L Poultry, where the hens were left to die–who sought to have the case dismissed. The court ruled that the sanctuaries have correctly asserted their right to place the financial burden of the hens’ rescue and rehabilitation where it belongs–on the individuals who caused the suffering, and who were spared by the sanctuaries of the expense of cleaning up the mess that they created.

The court also agreed with the sanctuaries that this kind of egregious act merits the potential for additional punishment based on the defendants’ cruel treatment of the hens, even though the defendants were the hens’ owners at the time of the cruelty.

The court also gave the sanctuaries an opportunity to redraft two other legal claims they had brought, which would establish their right to sue the defendants and obtain further justice for the victims of this horrible act of cruelty.

May 17. 2012

Modesto, Calif.–This morning, three non-profit animal sanctuaries–Animal Place, Farm Sanctuary, and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary–filed a complaint in the Stanislaus County Superior Court, seeking justice for 50,000 hens who were abandoned this past February by the owners of A&L Poultry, a Turlock egg production facility. The sanctuaries are represented by attorneys at the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and Schiff Hardin.

When the birds were discovered after two long weeks, the plaintiffs responded to A&L Poultry’s shocking and illegal cruelty by rescuing almost 4,500 surviving hens, who were all starved and severely dehydrated–and, in so doing, shouldered the egg producer’s legal duty to care for their animals. Today’s lawsuit seeks to place responsibility on the guilty parties who caused the suffering of tens of thousands of helpless animals.

The case centers on California’s largest-ever rescue of farmed animals. The hens were crammed into cages so small that they could not stretch their wings. Hens struggling to survive intermingled with the 20,000 hens who had already perished. Dozens of chickens had fallen out of their cages and struggled to avoid drowning in the giant manure pits below the buildings. Many were so sick that they could not stand, hold up their heads, or eat and drink.  The sanctuaries provided emergency care to the emaciated and suffering animals, and have been nursing them back to health.

“After 48 hours of camping outside of the egg farm, Animal Place took in 4,100 of the starving hens to our two sanctuaries,” stated Kim Sturla, Animal Place’s executive director. “The highlight of Animal Place’s efforts is watching these hens experience daylight, grass, love, and affection for the first time in their lives.”

“We can’t begin to imagine what these poor animals suffered as a result of the defendants’ reckless disregard for their welfare,” says Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary’s senior director for strategic initiatives. “No remedy is severe enough, but at the very least they should be held fully accountable by the courts.”

“The lawsuit the Animal Legal Defense Fund is filing on behalf of the plaintiffs who rescued the thousands of hens left to die seeks to place the expense of dealing with the tragic aftermath of this act of cruelty on the owners of A&L Poultry, who blatantly violated California law and never looked back,” says ALDF executive director Stephen Wells.

12 thoughts on “Owners of Stanislaus County’s A&L Poultry Sued After 50,000 Egg-Laying Hens Left to Starve to Death

  1. Maria S. Cantwell says:

    Thank you for stepping in and helping out in this situation. As for the people who are responsible for this act of cruelty – how would they like it they were left to starve to death?

  2. Rooibos says:

    It’s really too bad that those who locked up the birds and left them to starve and die are not subject to the same themselves. That would be justice.

  3. Jan Mitchell says:

    It is always about the money never about the animals. To the person (people) responsible for this tragedy, the bottom line was of the utmost concern. Once these birds outlived their usefulness to perform at top level, they were left to starve to death. It is cruelty plain and simple. Whoever owns this business should never own another animal again. These kinds of things have probably been going on for years, but that doesn’t make it right but instead makes it all the more horrendous.

  4. jerseysand says:

    50,000 hens, 20,000 died, 4500 saved. What about the other 25,500? left to die? slaughtered? euthanized? rescued by other groups? The whole situation makes me sick to my stomach.

  5. Ian says:

    The remainder of the birds that were not able to be rescued were gassed by state workers.

  6. Laurie says:

    It is barbaric cruelty to disregard animals in this way!!!!!!!!!! Each and every animal has value and deserves respect and protections. This is sickening and irresponsible behavior that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  7. Belinda Eastmond says:

    To put a stop to this kind of behavior, it would help to know WHY it happened. Hens outlive their usefulness routinely, but that doesn’t cause whole facilities to be abandoned with the birds still inside. Did A&L Poultry go bankrupt? Were they unable to get and retain enough employees to run the facility, at the wages they were offering? Were all their employees illigal immigrants, rounded up in a raid?

    What was the CAUSE?

  8. Diane Brady says:

    Why aren’t these people prosecuted and made to do prison time for their murder of of these animals?

  9. Norma Sandler says:

    This insane horror will continue as long as people continue to eat the cadavers of tortured animals of all kinds. This happens all over the world. I’m happy that at least some of these poor birds were saved.

  10. Holly Stewart says:

    I will continue to fight for these suffering creatures that give us so much pleasure in very many ways. Even someone who eats meat can feel sorry for the ways these animals are treated before they become Sunday dinner. This is just shear inconsiderate, cruel and malicious that A&L has treated these chickens. Knowing these stories make me feel so much better that I am a “salad” aholic. I can’t enjoy meat any more knowing this. Please help bring these animal to justice by providing legal assistance against A&L for their cruel and intolerant actions.

  11. Diane Harrell says:

    Are they up for adoption? I’ve had two hens as pets which I found along the road, somehow fallen off one of “those” trucks. One was in the bushes of a church and the other was in a cemetary! Both were almost featherless, sick and scared. I loved them and gave them the run of my little farm. One would eat in the feeder with my old horse. She was always in a small space tho. I hope the rest of their lives are happy. Thanks for saving these poor hens.

  12. Ian says:

    The chickens ARE up for adoption. They must go to a loving forever home and (obviously) you can’t get rid of them when they stop laying eggs. Here is the adoption info: http://animalplace.org/adoptable_birds.html

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