Felony Cruelty Charges in Hen Abandonment Case
Today, two defendants, Andy Cheung and Lien Diep, were arraigned after being charged with felony animal cruelty – a charge rarely levied against industrial agricultural producers. Last week, the Stanislaus County District Attorney filed felony cruelty charges against Cheung and Diep, owners of the Turlock, Calif.-based A & L Poultry, where 50,000 hens were abandoned to starve to death. The defendants face up to three years in prison and fines of up to $20,000 under California Penal Code section 597(b), which makes it a crime to deprive any animal of proper food, water, or shelter, or to inflict “needless suffering” or “unnecessary cruelty” upon an animal.
In a scandal that drew national attention last year, Cheung and Diep left 50,000 hens without food for weeks. By the time authorities discovered the abandoned warehouses in February 2012, more than 20,000 birds had starved to death or drowned in giant manure pits under their cages. 25,000 more had to be euthanized.
In the largest farmed animal rescue in California history, Animal Place, Farm Sanctuary, and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary stepped in to rescue and provide care for the remaining 5,000 birds. Representing the three animal sanctuaries, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Schiff Hardin have also filed a historic civil lawsuit that seeks to hold Cheung and Diep accountable. On December 5, 2012 the Stanislaus County Superior Court sided with the animal protection groups and allowed the civil case to move forward. In response, the defendants filed a writ petition with the California Court of Appeals seeking to reverse that decision.
Animal Place – Marji Beach, firstname.lastname@example.org
530-798-5114 or 707-363-7960 (mobile)
Farm Sanctuary – Meredith Turner, email@example.com
Harvest Home Sanctuary- Karen Courtemanche, firstname.lastname@example.org
Animal Legal Defense Fund – Lisa Franzetta, email@example.com;
707-795-2533, ext. 1015 or 415-203-5472 (mobile)