Wisconsin Moves to Dismiss Felonies, Trial against Activists – 2 from SF Area – for Rescuing Beagles in Distress

PC: Direct Action Everywhere

By The Vanguard Staff

MADISON, WI – A trial due to begin this month that could have landed three accused—including two from the San Francisco Bay Area—in prison for up to 16 years for removing three dogs in “distress” from a breeding facility was cancelled after the prosecution petitioned to dismiss the case.

The defense said they opposed the motion to dismiss, arguing, according to a statement, “the defendants’ actions were legal and they were entitled to prove this to a trier of fact.”

The animal rights activists were facing two felonies and $35,000 in fines for what they described as “rescuing three beagles from Ridglan Farms, one of the last two remaining large breeders of dogs for vivisection (research) in the country.” 

The rescue, said the activists, took place during a 2017 investigation, “where activists from Direct Action Everywhere documented conditions so deplorable, they called Ridglan a ‘factory farm for dogs.’” 

The defense statement said, “After removing three dogs who were in particular distress, the activists got them emergency veterinary care and ultimately found them permanent homes, where all three live happily today.”

“This is a stunning admission by the prosecution—that it 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,” said Chris Carraway, staff attorney at the Animal Activist Legal Defense Project, which represents accused Paul Darwin Picklesimer. 

Carraway added, “Each time an open rescue case goes to court, the public can clearly see that the real crime is animal cruelty, not animal rescue.”

Direct Action Everywhere uses a tactic it calls “open rescue,” in which activists openly “enter places where animals are suffering–including animal agriculture and animal experimentation facilities–document conditions and, discovering animals in extreme distress, remove those animals and nurse them back to health.”

Activists, said DxE, do not hide their identities, publicize their actions, and, according to their public statements, seek to “force a moral confrontation over our recognition that animals can suffer and the fact that we imprison, torture, and kill billions of them for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment every year.”

Direct Action Everywhere claims “the majority of these cases have resulted in jury acquittals or dismissal by the prosecution, often on the eve of trial.”

The group said the prosecution attempted to prevent the accused from asserting a “defense of others” defense, arguing the statute “does not provide protection from liability for preventing death or bodily injury to ‘things’—i.e. the rescued dogs.”

“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,” said Wayne Hsiung, a pro se accused in the case and the co-founder of The Simple Heart. 

“Just this past December, the government’s own inspectors once again noted that Ridglan has left puppies in unsafe conditions. Given the Dane County prosecutor’s blatant abuse of power in this case, a special prosecutor must be appointed to investigate Ridglan. This legal battle has just begun,” Hsiung said.

During its investigation at Ridglan, DxE said it “documented dogs crammed into small cages, often alone, with no access to the outdoors; apparent continuous 24-hour lighting; noxious air and feces building up beneath the cages; dogs with red and swollen feet from standing on wire cage floors; and extreme psychological torment.”

DxE, in its statement, added, “A defense motion filed in the case detailed conditions at Ridglan Farms in the years leading up to the 2017 rescue. It describes lack of outdoor access and exercise, potential violations of federal law.”

“In 2016, state inspectors issued an official warning over improper caging conditions that could cause leg and foot injuries to dogs at Ridglan. Though Ridglan promised to correct the problem, as recently as December 2023 federal inspectors found that it persisted. Indeed, the three rescued dogs required emergency medical intervention to treat infected and swollen feet,” DxE added.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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