Workers using a front-loader removed nearly a third of the 50 thousand hens before Stanislaus County Animal Services relented to mounting pressure, a gathering crowd, and hundreds of phone calls, finally granting Harvest Home and Animal Place exclusive permission to spearhead a rescue effort. The two rescues were the first on the scene and the last to leave, despite initially being refused entry. 4,460 hens made it out alive, and Animal Place is now housing, feeding, cleaning and providing lifelong care for the vast majority of them, over 4,100.
Volunteers worked around the clock to save the lives of over four thousand hens. After a rescue window of only two days, the remainder of the hens were euthanized by state authorities using CO2 gas chambers. The birds were abandoned two weeks earlier because owner A&L Poultry left them starving to death inside the farm. Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary was first alerted to the unfolding crisis on the afternoon of February 22, and dispatched two rescuers.
“When we arrived on the scene outside the abandoned egg farm, I was horrified at the suffering of the chickens happening in front of me, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the cruelty,” said Anne Martin, Harvest Home board member. “By the next morning, we had partnered with sanctuaries, volunteers from across Northern California, and thousands of supporters following the rescue of these chickens. Together, we were able to save 4,460 hens who will never again suffer the severe confinement of an egg farm, and from thistime forward, will know only human kindness.”
Onsite veterinarians checked individual birds before rescuers were allowed to load them onto trucks, but amidst the chaos many birds were overlooked. An Animal Place volunteer noticed several live hens languishing in a manure pit underneath the battery cages, and waded into the cesspool to save them. Sixteen hens were saved from the cesspools, and are in the process of recovery at Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary in Stockton. They will be thoroughly cleaned, given veterinary care and syringe-fed nutritional supplements to revive them to full health, remaining on site as permanent sanctuary residents.
"The scale of this week's effort is truly ground-breaking. A coalition of committed animal protection groups joined forces with Animal Place and Harvest Home to complete the largest ever farmed animal rescue in the United Sates,” said Christine Morrissey, Harvest Home Sanctuary Manager. “In light of the immense animal suffering within the walls of this egg facility, we were grateful to make the best out of a horrible situation. We applaud local and state authorities for allowing rescuers the opportunity to provide life-saving relief for thousands of animals on the brink of death.”
Since February 24, Harvest Home served as a temporary shelter for approximately one thousand hens, providing emergency supportive care before workers from Animal Place and other rescue groups were able to pick them up. Hens that are able to be nursed back to full health will be available for adoption through Animal Place's Rescue Ranch in Vacaville, for more information visit animalplace.org.
The public is welcome to visit to the sixteen hens rescued from the manure pit – once they have fully recuperated – by scheduling a tour through Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary. Harvest Home relies on individual donations to support the sanctuary residents and continued rescue efforts, please sponsor a chicken today. More information is available on our website, supportharvesthome.org.
Post by Ian Elwood for Harvest Home
Photo credit: Marji Beach