Animal Activist Sentenced To Three Months In Jail For Open Rescue

Wayne Hsiung has been sentenced for rescuing animals from two factory farms


4 Minutes Read

Direct Action Everywhere animal activist Wayne Hsiung being held in handcuffs by police Wayne Hsiung is an animal activist from Direct Action Everywhere - Media Credit: Direct Action Everywhere

Animal activist Wayne Hsiung has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and two years probation for openly rescuing injured and dying animals. Hsiung will also not be allowed to speak to his “co-conspirators” for two years.

Earlier this month, Hsiung was found guilty of felony conspiracy and misdemeanor trespass. He faced up to three-and-a-half years in prison for his role in liberating 70 birds – 32 ducks and 38 chickens – from two farms in Sonoma County.

In the trial, Hsiung used the “necessity defense” to argue that rescuing animals in situations of suffering is a legal right. He was also blocked from speaking about the conditions of the animals at the farms.

Taking to X (formerly known as Twitter) after the sentencing, DxE wrote “Judge Laura Passaglia also ordered that Wayne have NO CONTACT with the other named ‘co-conspirators’ including several of his closest friends…Wayne and other DxE activists took action to aid animals directly as a last resort after county authorities ignored repeated reports with evidence of criminal animal cruelty at these factory farms. Despite continued reports including new evidence of neglected, injured and dying animals from this year, the authorities are still failing to intervene.”

Who is Wayne Hsiung?

Animal activist Wayne Hsiung speaking to a police officer
Direct Action Everywhere Wayne Hsiung has been sentenced

Hsiung is a co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), a global network of animal activists. The group is leading a campaign to enshrine the legal “Right to Rescue” sick and injured animals from commercial operations.

A practising attorney, Hsiung represented himself at the trial. He has previously been acquitted after animal rescues, including in 2022 after a five-year legal battle with Smithfield for the rescue of two sick piglets in Utah. Earlier in 2023, he also led the successful legal defense for another DxE animal rescuer who was acquitted of theft in Merced, California

From his jail ceil, where he was held for four weeks awaiting sentencing, Hsiung published blog posts reaffirming his belief in the power of non-violent direct action. He also reported successes in educating fellow inmates on veganism and animal rights.

Why was Hsiung arrested?

Earlier this month, Wayne Hsiung was found guilty of felony conspiracy and misdemeanor trespass. Hsiung was convicted after an eight-week trial, which included six days of jury deliberation.

Alongside other DxE activists, Hsiung openly rescued animals and provided emergency medical aid to animals at two factory farms in Sonoma County. Over 100 people affiliated with DxE were arrested on felony charges during the rescues at Sunrise Farms (a Whole Foods and Costco egg supplier), and Reichardt Duck Farm (a major duck meat supplier). In total, 38 chickens and 32 ducks were removed from the facilities by the activists.

Two ducks held by a woman in front of thousands of cramped ducks at Reichardt Duck Farm
Direct Action Everywhere Zoe Rosenberg holding injured ducks at Reichardt Duck Farm

Zoe Rosenberg, a DxE rescuer, previously told Plant Based News (PBN) about the abuses. Scenes she saw at Sunrise included chickens trapped in wires and dead birds on the floor. “Yet every time that DxE investigated this facility and reported it to the authorities, nothing changed and nothing happened. That’s obviously what prompted Wayne, myself, and others to take action to rescue the animals in 2018.”

What next for open animal rescue?

Throughout the criminal proceedings, DxE investigators have continued to document animal cruelty at Sunrise Farms and Reichardt Duck Farm.

“Open rescue is one of the most powerful tools that we have to challenge animal cruelty,” Rosenberg told PBN. “We are not going to stop rescuing animals we find in situations of distress.”

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