Lawyer Wayne Hsiung found guilty for trespassing a farm to rescue a goat

White baby goat resting, animal news
Baby goat resting, photo: Canva

The American lawyer and animal rights activist Wayne Hsiung was sentenced to two years of supervised probation for an action where he said he saved a goat from inevitable slaughter.

Hsiung was found guilty of breaking into a farm in the state of North Carolina and stealing a goat, a Transylvania County jury decided on Monday.

In 2018, Hsiung and three other animal rights activists entered the Sospiro Ranch and took a newborn baby goat.

They live-streamed the rescue where Hsiung said he felt horrible to take the baby from his mother, but the baby would eventually be slaughtered if he didn’t. When he was with the baby in the car, he said he hoped the goat would live at least twenty years.

Being a lawyer, Hsiung defended himself, and in his testimony he said he broke into the farm with “intent to save a life”, according to the Transylvania Times.

During the trial, the 40-year-old lawyer focussed on the right to rescue an animal from cruel and poor living conditions or sick animals that aren’t getting medical care. He argued that what he did was the moral thing to do.

In some American states, people who break into hot cars to save distressed dogs are protected by “Good Samaritan” laws. Animal rights activists want those protections given to those who rescue any animal -pets, zoo and farm- in distress.

The prosecution did not want to talk about animal welfare or rescues but focussed on trespassing, breaking and entering, and larceny.

Hsiung lives in California and is one of the founders of the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). Founded in 2013, DxE is an international grassroots network of animal rights activists who use disruptive protests and non-violent direct action tactics, such as rescuing animals from factory farms.

DxE’s footage of the conditions inside some of America’s largest factory farms have been covered by several news outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The owner of Sospiro Ranch, Curtis Burnside, said that his farm was a small family-owned farm and nothing like the factory farms DxE usually targets. Burnside added the goat Hsiung took was less than a week old.

Hsiung said they filmed at the ranch because he wanted to show the world that “whether it’s factory-farmed or it’s from a small-scale farm, these animals don’t deserve to die”. He added that “killing an animal intentionally is criminal animal cruelty”.

He named the baby goat he rescued Rain, who now lives in a sanctuary.

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