TURLOCK (CBS13) — Thursday afternoon finally produced some good news after what has been such a heart-wrenching story when 50,000 chickens were left starving to death at a ranch outside Turlock.
A third of the birds have already died, and it was feared the rest would be euthanized, but instead thousands will be saved.
"We're going to help load them up to the rest of the agencies that are here," said Annette Patton, executive director of Stanislaus County Animal Services.
After waiting all day, two animal rescue groups finally got the news they were hoping to hear.
"We're thrilled to know they're going to let us in and save several thousand birds," said Kimberly Sturla of Animal Place.
Crews loaded chickens healthy enough to save into trucks.
"We're going to give them another chance at life," Sturla said.
Authorities were called to the ranch on Tuesday after someone nearby complained about the smell. When Animal Services arrived, they found that the chickens hadn't been fed for two weeks and already a third of those chickens had died.
"When you walk in there, there are birds deceased everywhere," Patton said.
The owner of the ranch is named Andrew Keung Chung. He didn't return calls from CBS13, but Animal Services says he ran out of money to feed the chickens. He could face animal cruelty charges.
"There was contact with the owner today," Patton said. "He was very cooperative and moving things along smoothly."
County workers were at the ranch all day Thursday cleaning up and euthanizing some of the sicker chickens. The plan was to dispose of the rest at a nearby landfill.
But once Keung Chung's attorney signed over ownership of the healthy chickens to the county, they were allowed to be handed over to the rescue groups.
"I think it's heart-wrenching for anybody if you could see inside there," Sturla said of all the dead birds.
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