Police Raid Small Family Farm, Charge Family, Seize Animals Because They Were Free Range

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Image from Friends of West Wind Acres Facebook Page

Image from Friends of West Wind Acres Face­book Page

Sch­enec­tady Coun­ty, New York – Ear­li­er this month, a fam­i­ly farm in rur­al New York was raid­ed by police after the own­ers were cit­ed on a num­ber of trumped up reg­u­la­to­ry vio­la­tions. Joshua Rock­wood, the own­er of the farm, is being accused of mis­treat­ing his ani­mals, and the local gov­ern­ment has began con­fis­cat­ing some of them.

Police ini­tial­ly vis­it­ed Rockwood’s prop­er­ty on Feb­ru­ary 25th to inves­ti­gate reports of unli­censed work­ing dogs, weeks before the raid. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Rock­wood vol­un­tar­i­ly showed local police around his prop­er­ty, which he had not yet tend­ed to that day because of their unex­pect­ed inter­rup­tion. After show­ing them around, they began to crit­i­cal­ly assess every aspect of the farm, writ­ing a num­ber of cita­tions for arbi­trary offens­es.

The very next day, Rock­wood had a vet­eri­nar­i­an vis­it the farm to check on the ani­mals to con­firm that they were well tak­en care of and in good health. Accord­ing to numer­ous reports, the vet said that the ani­mals were just fine, and did not seem to share the con­cerns that the offi­cers alleged dur­ing their walk-through.

A sec­ond vet­eri­nar­i­an was also called in to ver­i­fy the health of the ani­mals and they also found them to be in per­fect health.

A week lat­er, police returned again to noti­fy Rock­wood that he was to appear in court the next Thurs­day on a num­ber of charges relat­ing to the animal’s food and shel­ter. In total, 12 dif­fer­ent charges were brought against Rock­wood, but he has post­ed a num­ber of pho­tos to a Face­book sup­port page, which shows the ani­mals with suf­fi­cient hous­ing, and plen­ty of food.


Rock­wood has been charged with 12 counts of ani­mal neglect and abuse – some of the charges relat­ing to frozen water bowls and tanks – despite the ani­mals still hav­ing access to water. His dogs and hors­es have been seized and tak­en away.

Rock­wood treats his ani­mals bet­ter than most fac­to­ry farms do, but since he uses tra­di­tion­al farm­ing meth­ods, his farm will fail reg­u­la­to­ry inspec­tions, while fac­to­ry farms will pass.

Mean­while, New York is one of many states that are cur­rent­ly con­sid­er­ing “ag-gag” laws, which place crim­i­nal penal­ties on activists who expose ani­mal abuse at fac­to­ry farms.

The con­tro­ver­sial ag-gag laws pro­hib­it “record­ing an image or sound with­out the operator’s per­mis­sion; gain­ing ‘access to an agri­cul­tur­al oper­a­tion under false pre­tens­es;’ ask­ing for a job at a place for the pur­pose of mak­ing record­ings; and mak­ing a record­ing while tres­pass­ing.”

The irony here is that the state will lock you in a cage for film­ing the hor­rif­ic atroc­i­ties at a fac­to­ry farm while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly trump­ing up ridicu­lous and pet­ty vio­la­tions if you aren’t a fac­to­ry farm. Just who does the state “pro­tect” by doing these things?

family-farm-raided-by-police-1Rock­wood has launched a $50,000 gofundme cam­paign to raise mon­ey to post bond for his hors­es and to pay for the dis­rupt­ed legal fees and lost busi­ness he has incurred and will incur due to the pub­lic­i­ty and effort involved in defend­ing him­self. He means to go to court to try to fight the charges and to win back his rep­u­ta­tion, his res­cue dog, and his hors­es.

Because of his car­ing and gen­er­ous cus­tomers and sup­port­ers they are almost … that goal.