Sixty-seven animal rights activists Saturday afternoon were arrested after they took over a Sonoma County poultry facility that they claim houses thousands of birds in inhumane conditions.
As they live-streamed the protest on Facebook, about 150 members of Direct Action Everywhere marched down Jewett Road near Petaluma to McCoy's Poultry Services at about 1:30 p.m., livestreaming the event on Facebook.
They were greeted by a McCoy's employee who asked them to leave. Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies later responded and told the activists they would be arrested if they attempted to leave with any of the birds.
The activists brought a medical tent, under which they brought some birds found in a large shed, saying they needed medical care for conditions such as dehydration, broken limbs from being trampled and ammonia burns from standing in waste.
The group wanted to take some of the birds to a veterinarian, but sheriff's deputies told them they would not be allowed to remove the animals.
"We believe we have the legal right to rescue animals and get them the medical care they deserve," said Wayne Hsiung, an organizer of the event, told deputies.
The group maintains that under California Penal Code 597e, they have the right to enter a facility and rescue animalsthat are being abused.
About 3:30 p.m. today, deputies began arresting protesters. The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office did not return calls for comment.
McCoy Poultry Services, Inc. did not return calls for comment.
Activists say that the chickens housed at the facility are supplied to Perdue Farms, Inc. as Rocky free range and Rosie organic chickens, and then shipped to Amazon to be sold at Whole Foods.
Amazon representatives did not reply to a request for comment by 3:45 p.m. today.