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Starving llamas and ostriches were freed from a horrific ‘exotic meat’ farm. Was it theft or rescue?

Video from the 'exotic meat' farm shows well over a hundred animals, geese, emus, donkeys, goats, alpacas, ostriches, dogs with no access to running water, dying and starving.

ALEX WIGGLESWORTH: ‘Before sunrise one day in December, ‘thieves’ sneaked into Anshu Pathak’s exotic meat farm in Riverside County [California] and pulled off a singular heist. Someone cut away a section of fence. The evidence, Pathak said, suggests that they backed a trailer into the gap and lured up to 30 llamas and 160 ostriches inside. Also, emus, lambs, goats, alpacas and geese. Then, they were gone. Animal control officers and sheriff’s deputies wrangled about 50 additional llamas and emus that had spilled into the street. Another emu was found the next day wandering near Highway 74…

The ‘burglary’ was weeks in the making, coming after controversy over the 14-acre farm, which animal rights activists allege is keeping livestock in inhumane conditions. Pathak has denied this, and he has the backing of animal control officers who said they visited every day for weeks; each inspection revealed no sign of neglect. But from the activists’ standpoint, these weren’t thieves who took Pathak’s prized animals. They were liberators. Animal rights organizations call these operations “open rescues.” They go undercover and shoot video of a location where they believe animals are being neglected or abused before entering the property, en masse.

Such operations have a rich history in California… Groups such as Direct Action Everywhere openly publicize their rescues, often live streaming them on Facebook, and make no effort to conceal participants’ identities. No one has come forward to claim responsibility for the Dec. 30 break-in at Pathak’s farm. But 10 days before it took place, a Sherman Oaks nonprofit called the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation issued a call for volunteers via Facebook. “We will be doing a mass rescue this weekend, and will need help from those local to Los Angeles,” the post read. “There is a place in Riverside, where over a hundred animals are being kept. These animals are suffering, and appear to be housed on an abandoned lot. Animal Hope and Wellness has been investigating the scene, and due to the horrifying conditions have chosen to take action.”

Video from the property shows emus and geese wandering around a collection of overturned buckets and wheelbarrows, skirting an armless mannequin and a discarded toilet. At one point, volunteers step gingerly over the decomposing carcass of at least one large animal that’s partially buried in the dirt. “There are well over a hundred animals. Geese, emus, donkeys, goats, alpacas, ostriches, dogs with no access to running water, dying and starving,” the post read. “In addition to needing trailers and volunteers, we will need a place to take some of the animals.” The organization did not respond to requests for comment…

What Pathak has taken to calling “the drama” began in early December, he says, when an animal activist who lives in San Jacinto approached one of two caretakers who live on the farm full time and offered to gather donations for the animals. But in soliciting the fundraising via Facebook, the woman made the situation seem desperate, “as if we are poor and we don’t have money to feed these guys,” Pathak said. He believes she also used the encounter as an opportunity to covertly photograph and videotape his land. Other activists then picked up on the claims.

In mid-December, Kris Kelly, who runs a Beverly Hills animal rescue nonprofit called the Kris Kelly Foundation, posted on Facebook photographs taken from the street that showed emus and llamas standing near large puddles of water after a recent rain. She shared the farm’s address and questioned why Riverside authorities weren’t “doing anything to help these animals that are being STARVED and dropping dead left and right.” The Riverside County Department of Animal Services was inundated with complaints, spokesman John Welsh said… About a week later, the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation posted the video with a call for volunteers… The post received 1,200 reactions and was shared 785 times’.  SOURCE…

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