Distressed animals die during animal rights protest
SICK and dying chickens have become the unintended casualties of a controversial protest that was supposed to save them.
Police said the protest group at a Sydney chicken farm ignored directions to leave the property and placed chickens in cages before fleeing, causing a number of chickens to be injured or killed as a result.
NSW Hen Rescue planned the protest at a farm in the city's west after reports from concerned members of the general public hens had been left with no food and no water, crammed in a shed surrounded by the dead and decomposing bodies of other animals.
They claimed thousands of laying hens housed in a free-range system were already dead and more were dying before they launched into action on Thursday concerned police and RSPCA weren't doing enough.
Distressing videos taken by the group as police arrested them show protesters cradling seriously ill hens that appeared to be on death's door.
The protesters said they wanted to put the hens out of their misery but were stuck going through the arrest process with police.
Police charged 13 people with trespass and animal cruelty offences following the incident at a farm near Camden.
They allege just before midday the large group allegedly forced entry to the shed of the farm on Mowbray Road at Lakesland and threatened the owner with bolt cutters.
Police stopped them as they were leaving and also stopped a Toyota Hilux containing cages of chickens nearby.
Eight women, four men and a 17-year-old girl were arrested and taken to Narellan Police Station.
They were also charged with steal or kill with intent to steal a domestic animal or bird.
One of the men, aged 46, was also charged with assaulting police, common assault, and using an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence.
The result was far from what the group intended. They had initially demanded action be taken, the owner of the property prosecuted, the farming operation shut down, and that all hens were rescued and given medical attention.
NSW Hen Rescue said that on June 10 an anonymous member of the public drove past the property in daylight and found more than 50 hens on the road.
"Concerned for their wellbeing, they knocked on the property owner's door, only to find they were not home," the group shared on their Facebook page.
"With the gate to the property open, the person attempted to guide the chickens back to the fenced-in free-range section, to what they thought was a safe and secure space.
"Upon arrival, they were shocked to find hundreds of dead hens scattered outside the shed, and thousands of hens crammed together inside the shed."
They said RSPCA was called and the representative was told to refer the matter to police but they waited four hours and there was no sign of them.
More than a week later they then received footage anonymously showing the "deplorable conditions inside and outside the shed".
"The footage shows hundreds of dead hens outside, with possibly thousands of dead bodies inside," they said.
"A significant number of hens are still alive living in filth with no access to food or water."
They decided to take the matter into their own hands when they believed no action was being taken.
NSW Hen Rescue spokeswoman Catherine Kellaher said the egg farm had "horrific cruelty" inside.
Ms Kellaher said they had waited all morning for RSPCA to arrive.
"The owner has been seen removing dead bodies since last night," she said from the scene.
"We've also got a witness who says he has been removing half dead chickens that we were willing to save.
"We think it's not good enough. Why were these chickens left in his care?
"They should have been removed immediately and given the veterinary care and food, they needed. They should have been protected from this person who has thrown them into a skip."
She said police told them they could not take action because the footage was allegedly illegally obtained.
"What are people meant to do?," she said.
"We need to try save any that are still there dying. They cannot stay under the care of this person for another day.
"We need to say this isn't good enough."
The twelve adults were given conditional bail to appear at Picton Local Court on August 14 2018.
The 17-year-old girl was given bail to appear at a children's court on August 13.
Police inquiries are continuing.