TURLOCK (CBS13) — Thursday afternoon finally produced some good news after what has been such a heart-wrenching story when 50,000 chickens were left starving to death at a ranch outside Turlock.

A third of the birds have already died, and it was feared the rest would be euthanized, but instead thousands will be saved.

“We’re going to help load them up to the rest of the agencies that are here,” said Annette Patton, executive director of Stanislaus County Animal Services.

After waiting all day, two animal rescue groups finally got the news they were hoping to hear.

“We’re thrilled to know they’re going to let us in and save several thousand birds,” said Kimberly Sturla of Animal Place.

Crews loaded chickens healthy enough to save into trucks.

“We’re going to give them another chance at life,” Sturla said.

Authorities were called to the ranch on Tuesday after someone nearby complained about the smell. When Animal Services arrived, they found that the chickens hadn’t been fed for two weeks and already a third of those chickens had died.

“When you walk in there, there are birds deceased everywhere,” Patton said.

The owner of the ranch is named Andrew Keung Chung. He didn’t return calls from CBS13, but Animal Services says he ran out of money to feed the chickens. He could face animal cruelty charges.

“There was contact with the owner today,” Patton said. “He was very cooperative and moving things along smoothly.”

County workers were at the ranch all day Thursday cleaning up and euthanizing some of the sicker chickens. The plan was to dispose of the rest at a nearby landfill.

But once Keung Chung’s attorney signed over ownership of the healthy chickens to the county, they were allowed to be handed over to the rescue groups.

“I think it’s heart-wrenching for anybody if you could see inside there,” Sturla said of all the dead birds.

Comments (318)
  1. Natalie says:

    I think it’s great that hard-working volunteers from Animal Place, Farm Sanctuary and Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary gave these hens a second chance at life! 🙂

    As to the negligent owner of A&L Poultry, he’d better get slapped with animal cruelty charges to the fullest extent of the law and the money should be put towards compensating these wonderful organizations for all of the time and resources they expended cleaning up his mess. Despicable! Treating a sentient being as a commodity is unacceptable!

  2. Aimee B. says:

    Thank you to Animal Place and all the other rescue groups and people who have been working tirelessly to save these beautiful creatures. We saw some of them from a distance at Animal Place over the weekend. It was an amazing sight to see these birds free, enjoying the sun. At least now they will have the life they always deserved, one full of love and care.

  3. Provoked says:

    Let us not deceive ourselves on any form of “humane” eggs… Or other things gotten through the use or killing of others. Every life is precious.

    Thank you Sacramento – CBS for covering this story!

  4. Bobbi says:

    It breaks my heart when I see truck loads of poultry or cattle off to be killed. I’ve been a vegetarian since 2000 and more happy about that decision with each passing year! Not only is it good for my health but for the animals which I choose not to eat. Animals (ALL animals) are in our ‘care’ to be cared for, not neglected or hurt. They are capable of feelings as we are…

  5. Fox says:

    Bizarre comments on this story–do some of you need to actually advertise how inhuman you really are? Let’s be thankful that there are still humans out there that actually care for living things…Animal rescue groups hold the mirror up to our society that actually show us how desensitized we have become. This egg producer could have seen that his expenses were out of control and sold his stock before he left them to starve…good grief.

    1. pat says:

      Yeah, I really like PITA (not). They kill 95% of the animals they take in. Just read that today on drudge.

      1. Kel says:

        If people adopted animals there would be no need for euthanasia, which is what I’m assuming you’re referring to. Unfortunately euthanasia is often the most humane option… Which is horrifying to me, and why I only adopt. And overall PETA does a lot of good for animals… Even if their methods are sometimes controversial.

      2. Kel says:

        This is a horrifying story, and I’m SOOO so thankful that the rescue groups were allowed to rescue the animals that have no way to help themselves. Thank God for people like them. I hope this man is prosecuted, bigtime. There are about a million other ways he could have handled this situation without leaving animals to slowly starve to death. What an awful person…

  6. slobo says:

    Ring their necks…gut’em…defeather’em…bag’em…put’em on a boat to China!

  7. Fry1goat says:

    Wow great news, these chickens have been saved! Wait a minute, saved? So your saying they will not be eaten down the road right? Wait why would we want to keep 30k chickens alive? People Chicken = FOOD

    1. Silly Person says:

      Lol … well, no one wants chickens tortured (least I hope), but either a} they are somehow conferred the benefits of exotic animal rescue or b) (and this is my bet) … they’re fattened up and end up at Popeye’s … there is a curious asymettry in public concern between intentions and outcomes in this matter … maybe I’m crazy.

  8. kate danaher says:

    Thank you CBS Sacramento for your wonderful report. I perceived compassion for these birds, especially the anchor man. This was an unconscionable abuse of life. Laws are needed to protect this birds from torture. Thank you for this coverage.

    1. Jon says:

      What kind of law would you like to see….”It is now illegal to run out of money.” Use your head lady.

      1. Stef says:

        And what kind of a question is that? The owner didn’t just wake up one morning, realizing that he was out of food for the animals. This cruelty could have been prevented, he could have asked for help sooner.

      2. James Jordan says:

        That’s exactly what I was thinking, “yeah, lets make it illegal to go bankrupt” – get a brain Kate!

      3. Cody says:

        Use your head. No excuse for letting animals starve to death.

    2. Thomas Jefferson says:

      You perceived compassion???

      Lady- wake up, the media manipulates emotion with every piece of news they present. Trust me – these dogs don’t give a terd about some chickens, they don’t care about me, you, or anyone else for that matter…the media is a corporate mouthpiece that is incapable of spewing anything other than propaganda!

    3. Scott says:

      Ummm..like a law you can’t starve chickens? I’ll bet 1) there is a law on the books and 2) killing them and eating them isn’t much better.

      We need a law against people wanting laws…

    4. KateSucks says:

      they where going to eat them anyways no big deal. We should make a law for stupid people like you

    5. DBCG says:

      Kate is right. I guy (probably an illegal) didn’t run out of money by surprise. Let’s not feed him for a few days and see how he likes it.

  9. Johnny says:

    THE BRIGHT SIDE….. Upper exec at a Clean Energy Company got huge bonuses when they laid off 125 workers. Wonder where that government stimulus money went? I bet this farmer could have put it to use.

  10. ditchdigger2 says:

    The country is going broke, we are on the brink of wide spread war, and the mini-minds are thinking about chickens?

    1. Stef says:

      So you would tell a senior citizen who has slipped on a side walk, unable to get up: Sorry, can’t help you, country is broke and I have more important things to think about? We are touched by things that matter to us and help where we think we can. But that doesn’t mean a bigger picture isn’t important.

      1. Jasper says:

        No, because human life is important and valued higher then chickens.

  11. Amy says:

    Thank you CBS Sacramento for reporting this unfortunate story; I’m glad that at least it had somewhat of a happy ending thanks to two rescue groups that stepped in to save the remaining birds. Many thanks to them!

  12. NinaHalina says:

    A big thank you to the rescue groups and individuals who helped rescue these poor birds. No creature deserves such suffering.

  13. Christie Provost says:

    What a tragedy! Thank you, CBS, for covering this important story. Most people have never spent any time around a chicken. They are living, feeling little beings that deserved so much more than this, but thankfully, they were rescued for a new chance at life. I think it’s a pretty scary society that only values certain animals like dogs and cats. I think this world will be much better if we can value each and every life.

    1. parks53 says:

      WelI I am glad that some of the chickens who had not been fed for two weeks were still healthy. But you should realize that the healthy birds managed by eating thier weak and dying cohorts. Chickens while not very unintelligent still manage to figure out what to do to survive. And if person had been stuck in there with them, the chickens would have eaten him. Just food for thought.

  14. chickenlover says:

    Has anybody given any thought to the fact that if the rancher had lost the property to foreclosure, which it sounds like. That the foreclosing bank is responsible for the animal care not the other guy. The chickens would have been included as the equipment and property, that would have been required to be left with the property, as assets.

  15. joeg says:

    chickens are supposed to be dead. It would be inhumane to eat live chickens.

  16. markinmississippi says:

    This is all hilarious, Worries about chicken’s destination at your grocery counter….
    Find another producer, give him a cut of the chickens to pay for their upkeep, give the remainder to the homeless or poor in little packages, so they can something to eat! All this ballyhoo about these poor chickens, did anyone mention they are cannibals?

  17. Marc Web says:

    We should have kept the canal and given them chickens!

  18. Bob says:

    They should get a hold of PETA…I understand they know how to get rid of unwanted animals real well…with a 90% success rate…

    1. Colostar says:

      P eople
      E ating
      T asty
      A nimals

  19. FLOYD IN FLORIDA says:

    Andrew Keung Chung should be in Jail!
    Too stupid to ask for help? Not a once of common sense!
    Oh well you can’t fix stupid but you can send him to
    Prison and give him some time to reflect on his Stupidity!

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