Multiple Felonies Dropped against Activist in Santa Rosa Animal Cruelty Case

By Olivia Biliunas

SANTA ROSA, CA – Zoe Rosenberg had multiple felony charges dismissed by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Lynnette Brown this week, according to a news release from the Animal Activist Legal Defense Project.

The release also stated prosecutors dropped the charges at a preliminary hearing earlier this month, agreeing “there was insufficient evidence to support” another initially charged felony, said the defense.

The felonies dropped were all felony conspiracy charges to commit different misdemeanor level crimes, said the defense in a statement, noting the “first charge dropped was felony conspiracy to tamper with a vehicle because it is not a chargeable offense.”

The more recent charges dropped were felony conspiracy to commit vandalism, felony conspiracy to commit theft and felony conspiracy to commit trespass (602i).

Arrested in November, Rosenberg still faces that one felony and three misdemeanors with the possibility of up to five years in prison, said ALDP, for “rescuing” four sick chickens from a Sonoma County slaughterhouse.

The accused, said the defense, is still facing felony conspiracy to commit trespass with the intent of disrupting or interfering with a business, and misdemeanors of trespass, theft, and tampering with a vehicle (the rescued chickens were on a truck).

Rosenberg’s lawyer and staff attorney, Chris Carraway, at the Animal Activist Defense Project, argued, “Prosecutors are more focused on silencing those who expose animal cruelty than stopping the cruelty itself.”

“At trial, I will be fully transparent about what I’ve done, and what the authorities have failed to do to help abused animals,” said Rosenberg, a UC Berkeley student, adding, “Hopefully, a jury of my peers will agree that taking an animal who is sick to get medical care is not a crime.”

Carraway said, “The steadily declining number and seriousness of these charges underscores what is really going on with this case: prosecutors have overcharged Ms. Rosenberg in order to deflect from their stubborn refusal to enforce animal cruelty laws at Sonoma County factory farms.”

Petaluma Poultry and other county factory farms have been reported to the authorities by Rosenberg and other activists with Direct Action Everywhere, for unlawful animal cruelty, the article contributed. Justin Marceau, a University of Denver law professor, said in a Vox article on exposing animal cruelty, “The law is creating a double standard by which the corporations are not held accountable and a person who’s charged with trespass is.”

Authorities have prosecuted animal rights activists but have not taken any steps towards addressing the documentation of animal cruelty, said the defense, noting, animal rights activists have, “in response…begun rescuing sick and injured animals, rehabilitating them back to health, and finding them permanent homes and sanctuaries.”

Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) investigators said they have documented collapsed and incapacitated birds, some who are sick with infectious diseases, to be found in multiple Petaluma Poultry factory farms in Northern California.

Petaluma Poultry is a subsidiary of Perdue Farms, one of the four largest poultry producers in the United States.

Veterinarians who reviewed DxE’s documentation of animal cruelty found there is “substantial evidence of criminal animal cruelty, including diseased birds left to starve, dehydrate, and ultimately die; mortality rates over double the industry standard; violations of multiple biosecurity standards; and birds scalded alive at the slaughterhouse,” said DxE.

Rosenberg, the founder of Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary, has a May 23 court date to be arraigned on the remaining charges. Rosenberg’s sanctuary has saved over 1,000 farm animals and helps with long-term rehabilitation, said the accused’s defense.

Sonoma County residents will vote on a proposed ban on factory farms, otherwise known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), next November.

About The Author

Olivia Biliunas is a fourth year student at UC Davis pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a minor in Professional Writing. With a passion for the field of law she hopes to one day find herself making an impact on other people's lives as a lawyer. In her spare time she loves to go skiing and wakesurfing.

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