Several animal rights activists will need to wait until 30th May 2023 before they know when they are standing trial for an open rescue case that took place at least four years ago at Petaluma-area poultry and duck farms, in California, US. A hearing on 8th May in Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa was held to schedule a jury trial for Wayne Hsiung, Cassandra King, and Priya Sawhney, activists of the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). A fourth defendant, Rachel Ziegler, was also charged separately but the cases are expected to be consolidated.

They have been charged with several counts of second-degree burglary, conspiracy, theft, trespassing and unlawful assembly. They are accused of taking chickens and ducks from the local farms without the permission of the owners of those farms, but they say they believed the animals were being mistreated.

The incidents took place in Sunrise Farms, northwest of Petaluma on Liberty Road, on 29th May 2018, and Reichardt Duck Farm, west of Petaluma, on 3rd June 2019. A third incident at McCoy’s Poultry Services on Jewett Road on 29th September 2018 led to other charges that were dismissed during a different preliminary hearing in November 2021. The long delay in getting these cases to a conclusion has been partially caused by the COVID pandemic. 

Hsiung, who is one of the founders of DxE, said, “I’m looking forward to my day in court because I believe people in Sonoma County want animals to be protected, not tortured.”  He was recently acquitted in another open rescue case in Utah, and he, who is also an attorney representing himself in this case, also managed to secure the acquittal of other activists in a recent open rescue case in California. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.