FRESNO (CN) – The Animal Legal Defense Fund has no private action against dairy-calf ranchers who allegedly violated the state penal code by cramming their calves into small crates for up to 60 days at a time, a California appeals court ruled.
The fund filed suit against Victor and Debbie Mendes, owners of the Mendes Calf Ranch, who raise calves for dairies. The ranch has about 12,000 calves at any given time.
The plaintiff claimed the ranch isolates calves for up to 60 days in crates that are barely bigger than the animals and leave no room for the calves to turn around or lie in a natural position.
The defense fund sued under a section of California’s penal code that makes it a misdemeanor to confine animals without an “adequate exercise area.” The group drew attention to their cause by posting a video of the calves’ cramped quarters. “Calves must contort their bodies simply to turn around, and barely have room to stand,” the video’s subtitles read. “They must spend all day in crates that are often very dirty and covered in excrement.”
The appeals court dismissed the case, ruling that “no matter how well-intentioned” the plaintiff’s goals, the state Legislature did not intend for a private right of action to enforce the penal code.