San Bernardino, CA
Early this month, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office announced charges against Hohberg's Poultry Ranches in Ontario.
The charges stemmed from an investigation prompted by a Jan. 2016 report to Inland Valley Humane Society. The report alleged that chickens at the facility were being kept in conditions that were simultaneously deplorable and inhumane.
The complaint triggered an investigation by the Inland Valley Humane Society and Ontario Police Department and owed to their efforts, a warrant was executed at Hohberg's Poultry Ranches on Feb. 20, 2016. Those involved in the execution of the warrant included investigators from the District Attorney’s Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit, Ontario Police Department, The Humane Society of the United States as well as the Inland Valley Humane Society.
The investigators who executed the warrant found birds in overcrowded cages in which the birds were not able to fully spread their wings. In a press release, Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus, who oversees the Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit said, “Upon serving the search warrant, we found approximately 28,800 hens in unsanitary conditions that clearly violated the Farm Animal Cruelty Act,” said Ploghaus. “In some instances, we found dead hens decaying in the same cages beside living hens laying eggs for human consumption.”
Hohberg's Poultry Ranches was charged with 39 counts of violating the state’s Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act in addition to 16 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty under Penal Code 597(b). California’s Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act or Proposition 2 was passed by a large majority of voters in 2008. The law requires that egg-laying hens must be able to fully spread their wings without touching another animal or side of the enclosure.
If convicted as charged, the owner of Hohberg's Poultry Ranches, Robert Hohberg will face a maximum of 180 days in county jail for each cage size violation and a year for each count of animal cruelty count.
When commenting about the case, San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said, “While we are obviously concerned about the health of our citizens, at the end of the day, we also have a lawful obligation to ensure that animals in our county are being treated humanely.” He concluded, “The overcrowded conditions these animals were forced to live in were cruel. It was a horrible existence.”