Yesterday, September 17, Denver Baby Animal Save posted a Facebook video detailing what the activist group characterizes as the rescue of three chickens from a local business identified elsewhere online as Long Shadow Farm in Berthoud. The clip, on view below, has resulted in an explosion of responses on social media, prompting a debate about whether this action constituted a bold gesture on behalf of respect for all living creatures or criminal behavior.
Long Shadow Farm's website describes it as "a small, family farm in beautiful Berthoud, Colorado. We specialize in pastured poultry and grass fed lamb, and occasionally dabble in preserving food, and processing meat on the farm. We love happy, healthy, local food, raised humanely and with care."
A specialty of Long Shadow Farm is chicken harvesting, with representatives of the enterprise regularly teaching poultry processing classes to those who want to raise birds for meat and eggs. However, a Boulder Daily Camera article about one such session, published prior to a May 20 event, appears to have put Long Shadow Farm on the radar of animal rights demonstrators. In a website post that went live shortly after the Camera piece, the farm shared a tweet from one advocate that reads: "This group teaches how to kill birds in front of a live audience. Anyone up for a disruption?"
"They are planning on being at the farm on May 20 to protest," the Long Shadow Farm post notes. "I've already spoken with the Sheriff and know what to do if things get out of hand, and I also know what they can and can not do legally. If you want to join them, I imagine you aren't following my blog. If you want to support us, we'll throw some chickens on the BBQ for lunch, and some tasty brew, too. We're always happy to feed folks on the farm. The gates will be locked that morning, to protect my livestock and my child from any of their actions. Ironically, many of our customers are former vegans and vegetarians who just needed to find a place where animals were treated properly. But in the meantime, thanks for the extra PR. We appreciate it, and we look forward to meeting you, supporters and vegans alike."
As for Denver Baby Animal Save, a GoFundMe page featuring the headline "Love-Based Activists Harassed" offers more details about the group. Here's the introduction:
Denver Baby Animal Save started in June of this year. It is a chapter of The Save Movement (best known for Anita's Pig Trial in Toronto).
Twice per week, activists and animal lovers in Denver visit the roadways and bike paths near a slaughterhouse that kills baby lambs and goats for food. They spent weeks researching details of property lines and various laws to ensure that all their activities at the slaughterhouse would be lawful, so they could continue visiting and sharing the stories of babies during their last day of life. While activists are waiting for a truck to arrive, they share food with homeless people, clean up trash along the roads and bike paths, hold signs showing love for animals, sing songs of animal liberation, write messages of love and liberation with chalk, and do outreach in the community- again ALL on public property. When the truck arrives, they bear witness to the babies inside the trucks. Though the slaughterhouse has the highest animal welfare standards, the lambs and goats still arrive overheated, dehydrated, with open wounds, prolapses, broken limbs, etc. All of the babies arrive having been torn from their mothers way too soon. The activists show the animals likely the only compassion they will ever receive from humans. They comfort them with soft voices and promise to share their stories.
In addition to showing love for the nonhuman animals, Denver Baby Animal Save has a strict policy of nonviolence and love toward humans. It has paid off in many cases and opened up productive, unlikely conversations with slaughterhouse workers and police officers about what rights other animals have. Unfortunately, love and kindness wasn't enough for all. One security guard sexually assaulted an activist to try to intimidate her and keep her away. Several truck drivers threw feces at activists (which is a form of assault). And, a slaughterhouse manager and a security guard targeted a child activist with autism, who is ultrasensitive to sound, by following him and holding down car horns, and making indescribably loud noises with megaphones and sirens. A variety of other illegal actions have occurred as the slaughterhouse desperately tries to hide the truth and as police officers have not followed laws and have violated the rights of protesters.
As of today, five activists have now been cited for trespassing by police officers who were sick of having to come out to the property and answer 911 calls the slaughterhouse made complaining about peaceful protesters. None of the activists were trespassing, according to the information we have. At this time, we prefer not to identify the activists in order to protect their personal lives and families. However, three of them are moms, two are teachers, all are responsible, love-based activists who only want to see a world where compassion is extended to all sentient beings.
We have paid most of the legal fees but need just a little bit more help in order to make sure we can get through this challenge and continue being there for the babies. We don't want harassment and intimidation to squash free speech. Even just a dollar or two will help so much. Thank you so much for your consideration.
The Denver Baby Animal Save effort on behalf of the chickens are detailed in the following video, which has been viewed more than 29,000 times at this writing — just over fifteen hours after it first appeared.
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The reactions to the video — well over 500 of them — have been extremely polarized, with some praising the organization for its boldness and others castigating its members. Here's a sampling from each point of view:
Nothing like felony trespass with the intent of stealing livestock, and felony livestock theft....chances are good you are all looking at 2 felonies.
All these troll comments are so sad. I pity anyone who has no compassion or love for animals, and berate people for protecting animals.
You hippies have no clue how much time, money, hard work, and love goes into raising these animals! And you think you have a right to take them from their home! You guys should have been swallowed!
I love you all, thank you!!! This was a wonderful action. I really enjoyed getting to know you, I'm sure I'll see some of you soon in vigils.
Ok cops! Go get them! They made your jobs easy because you have them openly admitting their crimes and telling you their name!
Wow people defending the horror of farmed animals...if they were rescuing dogs yould be applauding them. You people are completely disconnected from what you're eating.
I keep waiting to discover that this is part of a Portlandia skit. These people really need to find a cult and drink the cool-aid.
Thus far, the only comment from Long Shadow Farm comes in the form of this Facebook item: "While I appreciate the free PR, I've had to turn off tagging for a while. Don't want to be affiliated the Denver Baby Animal Save or any of their sheeple. Thanks for the support, everyone."
We've reached out to both Denver Baby Animal Save and Long Shadow Farm and will update when and if we hear back from one or both.