From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2011:
ACTON, California–The brief but eventful history of Animal Acres came around full circle when Farm Sanctuary on September 15, 2011 announced that the southern California farm animal sanctuary would become a third Farm Sanctuary location.
Animal Acres, located in Acton, an hour from Los Angeles, “is presently home to rescued cows, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, geese, and chickens,” the Farm Sanctuary announcement continued.
Struggling against a soft economy, “the Animal Acres board of directors reached out to us about a potential partnership,” in April 2011, Farm Sanctuary recounted. “In May, Farm Sanctuary staff began providing assistance at Animal Acres, performing daily animal care and maintenance. It became clear to both organizations that Animal Acres would be a welcome addition to the Farm Sanctuary national shelter and education programs,” the announcement said.
Animal Acres founder Lorri Houston cofounded Farm Sanctuary in 1986, with Gene Baur, who still heads Farm Sanctuary. They opened the first Farm Sanctuary site near Watkins Glen, New York, later in 1986, and added a second location near Orlands, in northern California, in 1996.
Leaving Farm Sanctuary in July 2004, Houston founded Animal Acres in September 2005 as as “Peaceable Kingdom.” She changed the name due to objections from the New York humane education charity Tribe of Heart, which had titled a documentary about Farm Sanctuary Peaceable Kingdom.
“I believe Lorri is still alive and kicking, but haven’t been in touch with her,” Baur told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “She left Animal Acres before Farm Sanctuary was engaged to help out there. I think this makes long term sense,” Baur continued, mentioning that “our place and people in Orland can be there to support the Los Angeles operation.”
Animal Acres was involved in several efforts to expand law enforcement on behalf of farmed animals. The founding boards of directors of both Animal Acres and an organization called the Bureau of Humane Law Enforcement included both Houston and BHLE cofounder Brenda Carey. By 2006 their boards no longer had any common members, but Animal Acres housed animals seized in cruelty cases by the BHLE, and the BHLE had hired caretaking help for the animals.
After the Los Angeles Police Department challenged the authority of the BHLE to operate as a humane law enforcement agency, the BHLE founders withdrew the applications they had filed to become California humane officers and refocused on distributing a downloadable California Animal Law Enforcement Field Guide.
Then-Animal Acres farm manager Frank Allen meanwhile formed Animal Cruelty Investigations, a nonprofit organization also located in Acton. Allen, no longer associated with Animal Acres, has led several noteworthy investigations of farm animal neglect and rough handling at stockyards.
Menaced by the September 2009 Station Fire, the largest wildfire in California history, Animal Acres evacuated all 125 resident animals and rescheduled a gala fundraiser, but escaped without major damage.
In April 2010 Animal Acres rescued about 150 animals from the defunct Purple Cow sanctuary in Valley Center, California, including “110 goats, 30 or so chickens, seven cows, six pigs, two horses and a donkey,” according to the North County Times. Reportedly emaciated and suffering from parasites, the animals were left without care for some time after Purple Cow founder Tiffany St. Ives, 56, was in February 2010 charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Pleading guilty, St. Ives was in June 2010 sentenced to serve a year in jail plus probation, and was subsequently sued by the victim’s family for allegedly causing the wrongful death of Marlene Resendiz, 17.
Resendiz, of Escondido, a high school senior who was engaged to be married, was reportedly carried about 300 feet on the hood of St. Ives’ car.
“During her criminal proceedings, evidence showed that St. Ives had gone to elaborate lengths to cover up the crash. She was arrested more than two years after Resendiz’s death after a tipster called police,” summarized San Diego Union-Tribune reporter J. Harry Jones.
Animal Acres reportedly spent more than $62,000 to treat, transport, and house the Purple Cow animals.
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