HARRISBURG, Pa. - Operators of one of Pennsylvania's largest egg farms were acquitted of animal-cruelty charges that were based on video shot by an undercover animal rights activist posing as a farm employee.
H. Glenn Esbenshade, the owner and chief executive of Esbenshade Farms, and farm manager Jay Musser each faced 35 counts of animal cruelty.
District Judge Jayne F. Duncan found them not guilty of all counts in a ruling issued late Friday. The reasons for Duncan's ruling were not immediately clear; her office said Monday that no written opinion was filed.
The videotape was made over several days in December 2005 by an investigator affiliated with the animal rights group Compassion Over Killing. The tape was alleged to have captured instances in which hens were impaled on wires from their cages, trapped and unable to get to food and water, and caged with decomposing carcasses of other hens.
Esbenshade said he questioned the accuracy of the 19-minute tape.
"I don't know if all of the video is even (of) my farm," Esbenshade said Monday. "The way the video looked, I could not be in business today."
Animal rights groups have said the cruelty charges were the first lodged against an egg farm in Pennsylvania, the nation's third-largest egg producer.
Gordon Einhorn, a lawyer for Humane Society officer Johnna Seeton, who filed the charges, said he suspected the judge did not want to set a legal precedent.
"My sense is that she saw it as a groundbreaking case and just didn't want to take that leap without other case law to rely on," Einhorn said, adding an appeal was unlikely.
Einhorn said the Lancaster County district attorney's office denied Seeton's request for a search warrant to investigate the farm.
I have seen were I get my milk from. My new house is only 10 miles up the road from my house. There are like 5 diffrent pastures of milking cows. They all looked ok to me (suprised myself). It was cool to see them all walking into the barn and see the others coming out the other side. There cows all had tales and like 100 acers to graze on no crulety there......
I actually live pretty close to this. It was front page news for about a day, then people stopped caring. There are A LOT of animal cruelty issues here. This is the link to the story: http://local.lancasteronline.com/4/205114
***Edited By: Leo022105 on 6/5/2007 12:25:04 PM*** Reason: add link
Perhaps people should buy from their local farmers markets where the chickens are usually allowed to roam free in yard/pasture, just where ever and roost in the coop at night and go to the coop, lay the egg, and back to scratching the property. No neglect, abuse, and its fresh. I also live in the midst of livestock farms and 99% of the farms have their animals living as nature intended in large tracts of land going where and when they please. They got it pretty good as far as cows go.