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Burglars Steal Animals, Feed From Campus Farm Days Before Stanislaus County Fair

STANISLAUS COUNTY (CBS13) — A barnyard burglary rocked students at a high school farm just days before they are set to show their animals at the Stanislaus County Fair.

The incident happened sometime Sunday at the campus farm at Johansen High School in Modesto. Students said someone broke into the barn and stole about 15 bags of feed as well as a cage with two rabbits inside.

They also released dozens of pigs and sheep from their stalls.

Students said, because the pigs don't normally mix, they fought; causing them to suffer scrapes and bruises just days before the start of fair competition.

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"It really hurts because we put a lot of time and effort into this project and for someone to just cause a catastrophe for no reason it's like what's the point? What's their benefit out of it?" said Future Farmers of America (FFA) student Asia Sidouang.

Sidouang has been showing sheep at the fair for four years.

"I usually place in the top five," she said. "It's competitive and a very rigorous course. It teaches you leadership skills, organization and time management is huge."

She said the break-in has put added stress on the students who are gearing up for competition.

"I just wanted to make sure my lamb was okay. I came out here and all the lambs were fine, feed gets stolen, feed can be replaced," said FFA student Maddy Haflich. "I don't really know why they did it. I don't know why you would want to hurt cute animals."

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Luckily students and staff said they were able to return all but two rabbits to their enclosures.

"They knocked over the rabbit cage, let two of the rabbits out and actually stole the cage with the other two rabbits in it," said AG Teacher Dustin Parsons.

Parsons said one of the rabbits was part of a project a student had planned to show at the fair.

"Thankfully we purchased extra rabbits to where we could take one of our extra rabbits and give it to her," he added.

The students are now hoping the pig's wounds will heal before the fair begins on Friday and their competitions start next week.

"I'm spraying them with hydrogen peroxide and making sure it's clean so it doesn't scar or anything," said student Melissa Grenig.

She said, she and the other students could be docked a couple of points for showmanship due to the scrapes, but pigs tend to have tough skin.

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"It's common for pigs to get into interactions like that where they'll get into a fuss with other animals," she added.

The students are hoping the person or persons responsible will think about the impacts the act had on them and that it will prevent another incident from happening.

"Especially before fair like we have a lot of stress on our hands, we have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning, haul our sheep out. It's a lot of work and this just puts more pressure on us," said Sidouang.

Johansen High School does have surveillance on campus near the farm. Staff is now working with the Modesto Police Department to determine whether any images of the suspects were captured and whether they'll lead them to the burglars.

In the meantime, the farm is making some changes to keep the animals more secure. The rabbits are now being kept at one of the student's homes.

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