On 8th March 2024, the state of Wisconsin dropped all charges against the three animal rights activists accused of rescuing beagles from a dog breeding facility for vivisection. In 2017, Paul Darwin Picklesimer, Eva Hamer, and Wayne Hsiung, members of the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), allegedly participated in an “open rescue” operation at Ridglan Farms in Dane County, Wisconsin, US. 

Because of taking some dogs to safety, the activists were initially charged with one count each of felony burglary and felony theft and faced a potential maximum sentence of 16 years in prison and a $35,000 fine before the state called for the charges to be dropped just a few days before the trial was scheduled to begin. 

When entering the facility, the activist said they found dogs who were crammed into small cages that put them at risk of foot and leg injuries, with no access to the outdoors, and forced to live in continuous 24-hour lighting. The activists removed three beagles who appeared to be in particular distress, got them veterinary care, and found homes where the dogs would no longer be treated as objects. 

Chris Carraway, an attorney with the Animal Activist Legal Defense Project who represents one of the defendants, said, “The prosecution, evidently, prefers to let the defendants walk free than allow the world to see the dire conditions of dogs at Ridglan, and the state trying to jail activists for a heroic act of compassion… Each time an open rescue case goes to court, the public can clearly see that the real crime is animal cruelty, not animal rescue.”

Wayne Hsiung, one of the accused who is also a lawyer and co-founder of DxE, said, “The state and Ridglan are acknowledging what we knew to be true: we have the right to rescue suffering animals from abuse because they are sentient beings, not things.”

“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’.