113 Farm Animals Removed From SWFL Backyard Butcher Operation
Five Florida-based animal sanctuaries banded together to coordinate the removal of 113 farm animals from a backyard butcher operation in Buckingham last month.
The rescue effort was overseen by the national animal advocacy group, Farm Sanctuary. The organization’s CEO Megan Watkins said the local sanctuaries expected to remove an estimated 30 animals from the property and were surprised to find more than 100 animals onsite.
“We were incredibly moved by their flexibility, and their willingness to continue to assist,” Watkins said.
Karla Dumas of Yesahcan Sanctuary in Arcadia said she received a call from a sister sanctuary owner on April 22 asking if she could assist in the removal of the animals at the Buckingham residence.
Dumas said she was shocked at the conditions the animals were living in.
“There were a ton of roosters, many of them were missing toes and many of the hens did not have feathers,” Dumas said. “There was no water, there was no food, they were crammed in these tiny cages together.”
Dumas and her family loaded 30 birds into their trailer but spent most of their time trying to rescue a pig they found lying in his own waste in a bare concrete stall.
Dumas said she thought the pig, which she named Gabriel, was dead when she first saw him.
“There was a feeding trough with rotting produce, and his ears were so bit up by the flies, it looked like one big scab,” Dumas said.
Danny Waltz from civil litigation team at Animal Legal Defense Fund said the organization has been trying to shut down the illegal butcher operation since 2018.
“To ban the defendants from possessing farm animals, from selling live farm animals and from slaughtering farm animals,” Waltz said. “You know, just sort of stop the cruelty from occurring from all three angles.”
Waltz said a Lee County judge authorized the removal of the animals in March to enforce a civil lawsuit from 2019, which is the most severe thing that has happened to the property owners.
Waltz said the presence of Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies during the removal of the farm animals, might lead to a criminal case against the owners of the property.
“I’m really hopeful that because law enforcement was involved in the rescue, that what they saw lit a fire under them and they’re considering bringing criminal action now.”