Andy Cheung and Lien Diep of A&L Poultry in Turlock have been permanently prohibited from working directly with animals again, a settlement reached as a result of the producers’ reckless abandonment of 50,000 hens back in 2012.
“The egg industry is rife with routine animal suffering, but today’s settlement ensures that those responsible for the tragedy in Turlock are permanently out of the business of raising animals,” said Matthew Liebman, senior attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Animal Place, Farm Sanctuary, and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary filed a lawsuit against Cheung and Diep back in 2012 after the defendants abandoned 50,000 hens without food and left them to die at a facility near Turlock. By the time authorities responded to a citizen complaint regarding the facility, over 20,000 hens had starved to death or drowned in manure pits under their cages and approximately 25,000 hens had to be euthanized.
Stanislaus County Animal Services Executive Director Annette Patton referred to the 2012 abandonment as the worst case of animal cruelty the county has ever seen.
An estimated 5,000 birds were rescued by Animal Place, Farm Sanctuary, and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary in the largest farmed animal rescue in California history. Now in sanctuaries or having been adopted into homes, these hens are able to engage in natural behaviors again while in a healthy environment.
“The court’s affirmation that A&L Poultry bears financial responsibility for their cruel mismanagement sends a message to agribusiness that it can no longer abuse animals without consequence,” said Animal Place executive director Kim Sturla. “These men left 50,000 individuals to suffer and die, and while it’s gratifying that Animal Place staff and volunteers saved nearly 4,500 lives and placed them in loving homes, this tragic situation should have never happened in the first place.”
Cheung and Diep still face up to three years in prison and fines up to $20,000 under California Penal Code section 597(b), which prohibits the act of depriving any animal or proper food, water or shelter. In addition, the law makes it a crime to inflict needless suffering or unnecessary cruelty upon any animal.