UPDATE: California Backyard Butcher Pleads Guilty to Felony Animal Cruelty
Roberto Celedon, known as a backyard butcher, has pled guilty to one felony animal cruelty charge (brown and white bull) and a misdemeanor charge of operating a meat processing establishment or custom livestock slaughterhouse without a license. The plea bargain stemmed from 13 charges – 3 felonies and 10 misdemeanors. For this he will serve 90 days in jail followed by five years probation.
In addition, Celedon was ordered to complete 48 animal cruelty classes; cannot own or harbor any animals; cannot own, operate or work at any meat-producing facility; cannot attend animal auctions or sell any meat products. He was also ordered to provide a DNA sample. His jail sentence began June 26, 2012.
Several sources report Celedon was ordered to pay $4,000 restitution, but Jane Robison of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told me restitution has not yet been determined. A restitution hearing has been set for July 25. It is possible the restitution amount could be as high as $20,000.
Celedon’s case is precedent-setting in California. Because of this victory, similar backyard butchers are being investigated. Jay Weiner, President at The Gentle Barn — where most of the animals removed from Celedon’s property went this past April – said the penalty given Celedon is “fantastic!” He went on to explain that even though a 90 day jail sentence seems minimal, the other stipulations are more important than the actual jail time.
Now, Celedon is not allowed to own or harbor animals for the rest of his life. All his slaughter instruments must be removed from his property. He is not only barred from attending animal auctions or buying animals, he is not allowed to sell any meat products — for life. That includes any other backyard butcher’s slaughtered animals.
How Are the Rescued Animals Doing?
Weiner told me the severely underweight horse, now named Hiroka (post photo is her current picture) and her before picture can be seen here, had a deep and infected wound on her leg open to the bone. She has made remarkable progress. Hero — as she is nicknamed — has gained over 100 pounds since arriving at The Gentle Barn. The wound is healing at an amazing rate thanks in part to the use of Sun Chlorella, a food supplement donated to The Gentle Barn for all 160 animals under their care.
Aside from the horrific physical conditions of the animals rescued from Celedon’s backyard butcher operation, they all suffered from emotional abuse as well. Weiner reports the emotional scars are also healing and estimates their psyches are 50 percent improved. So many were terrified of human contact and staff at The Gentle Barn have been dedicating time and patience in gaining their trust.
Most of the rescued animals, including Hero, will remain at the Gentle Barn for the rest of their natural lives. Several gave birth after arriving at The Gentle Barn, including a cow named Louise who has a daughter called Susie Q. Mothers and children will not be separated.
Some, like Lincoln and Shenluk – both goats — will be available for adoption. Shenluk, also called Tink, is thought to have been someone’s pet before arriving at the backyard butcher’s property because she was friendly and still plump when rescued.
The Gentle Barn only adopts out those animals deemed capable of making the transition to another home and only for the purpose of becoming a pet. They consider the arrangement a lease because the pet must be returned to The Gentle Barn if the placement doesn’t work out for any reason.
The Gentle Barn advocates a vegan diet. After caring for the abused, neglected and tortured animals like they do, it’s no wonder being vegan is a way of life for people like Jay Weiner and his partner, The Gentle Barn founder, Ellie R. Laks. Of course animal abuse isn’t the only reason to consider adopting a vegan diet. The health benefits alone are worth the effort, not to mention the devastating environmental effects factory farming of animals has on the planet.
Photos used with permission of The Gentle Barn