Judge Dismisses Felony Charges Against UC Berkeley Student Who Rescued Four Chickens From A Slaughterhouse

A Sonoma County judge dismissed multiple felony charges against UC Berkeley student Zoe Rosenberg, 21, who is being prosecuted for rescuing four chickens from a Sonoma County slaughterhouse.

Earlier this year, prosecutors dropped one of Ms. Rosenberg’s initial five felonies. Subsequently, at a preliminary hearing earlier this month, prosecutors agreed that there was insufficient evidence to support the felony charge.

Judge Lynnette Brown dismissed that felony and two of the additional remaining four felonies. Ms. Rosenberg now faces one felony and three misdemeanors, and up to five years in prison. She was arrested in November, while en route to deliver evidence of animal cruelty, documented at several area factory farms, to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office.

“The steadily declining number and seriousness of these charges underscores what is really going on with this case: prosecutors have overcharged Ms. Rosenberg in order to deflect from their stubborn refusal to enforce animal cruelty laws at Sonoma County factory farms,” said Chris Carraway, Ms. Rosenberg’s lawyer and a staff attorney at the Animal Activist Legal Defense Project. “Prosecutors are more focused on silencing those who expose animal cruelty than stopping the cruelty itself.”

“At trial, I will be fully transparent about what I’ve done, and what the authorities have failed to do, to help abused animals,” said Zoe Rosenberg. “Hopefully, a jury of my peers will agree that taking an animal who is sick to get medical care is not a crime.”

Petaluma Poultry is a “free range” and partially “organic” subsidiary of Perdue Farms, one of the four largest poultry producers in the United States. It supplies to major grocery store chains including Costco, Trader Joe’s, and historically, Whole Foods, though Whole Foods is no longer transparent about whether it still uses Petaluma Poultry as a supplier.

For years, Ms. Rosenberg and other activists with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) have reported to authorities unlawful animal cruelty at Petaluma Poultry and other county factory farms––as, indeed, Ms. Rosenberg was doing when she was arrested.

While authorities have aggressively prosecuted animal rights activists, they have taken no action to address the extensive documentation of animal cruelty. In response, activists have begun rescuing sick and injured animals, rehabilitating them back to health, and finding them permanent homes in sanctuaries.

Since 2018, DxE investigators have documented routine violations of California’s animal cruelty laws at several Petaluma Poultry factory farms in Northern California and the company’s slaughterhouse, including birds collapsed on the floor or stuck on their backs and unable to walk to eat or drink, left to slowly starve to death; birds with splayed legs; birds with open wounds; and infectious diseases that threaten public health.

DxE says the horrific findings demonstrate clear violations of California Penal Code Section 597. In particular, birds who are collapsed and unable to walk cannot access food or water, and it is a crime to deprive animals of “necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter.”

Three veterinarians who reviewed DxE’s 2023 findings at the Petaluma Poultry factory farm on Hunter Lane in Santa Rosa and the slaughterhouse in Petaluma concluded that there is substantial evidence of criminal animal cruelty, including diseased birds left to starve, dehydrate, and ultimately die; mortality rates over double the industry standard; violations of multiple biosecurity standards; and birds scalded alive at the slaughterhouse.

Later this year, Sonoma County residents will vote on a proposed ban on factory farms, otherwise known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), in the county. Ms. Rosenberg will appear in court on May 23rd, 2024, to be arraigned on the remaining charges.

Ms. Rosenberg is the founder of Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary, which she founded at age 11. Since 2014, Happy Hen has saved almost 1,000 animals from factory farms, slaughterhouses, cockfighting rings, and other abusive situations.

You can support the Coalition to End Factory Farming in Sonoma County, HERE!

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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