'I was feeling my life leave my body': Animal rights activist says he was almost killed while protesting at a Petaluma duck farm

Kate Larsen Image
ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Animal rights activist says he was almost killed while protesting at duck farm
Panic set in when a machine started pulling animal rights activist Thomas Chiang's head and neck into a pole.

PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- The signs at Petaluma's Reichardt Duck Farm, say 'Keep Out, Biosecure Area', but a group of protestors trying to rescue animals, they believe are abused, entered anyway and protested at their own risk.

Video sent to ABC7 by activist group Direct Action Everywhere, shows terrified protestors crying out for help as a duck slaughter processing line, that they're chained to, starts to move.

VIDEO: Close call for animal rights protester after neck chained, pinned to duck slaughter line in Petaluma

Dozens of protesters arrested after attempting to stop duck farm operations.

"We need to stop this right now," screamed one activist.

Panic set in when the machine started pulling animal rights activist, Thomas Chiang's head and neck, into a pole.

"Almost decapitating my head from my neck," said Chiang, who spoke to ABC7 via Facetime on Wednesday. "I was feeling my life leave my body, as I was struggling to get out of that lock."

Chiang was one of the hundreds of activists who took buses to Petaluma to protest the Reichardt Duck Farm on Monday. But he was part of a smaller group who entered the farm, through marked fences, and shackled themselves to machinery with u-locks.

Chiang knew that locking himself to a machine built to facilitate death was dangerous but said he did it for a reason.

"We have to escalate all of our actions because this is a global crisis we're under."

Chiang does not know who turned the conveyor line back on. After he escaped the lock, he was taken by ambulance to a hospital and says his injuries will heal. He's still deciding whether to file a police report.

"I think whoever the manager was, whoever was working there, was extremely upset that we were disrupting his business."

RELATED: I-Team: Petaluma duck farm investigated for animal cruelty

The Sonoma County Sheriffs Office told ABC7 they looked into the incident. Reichardt Farm told them it was an accident and that the employee who turned on the machine inside, was unaware the protestors were chained to it outside.

ABC7 news reporter, Kate Larsen, knocked on a door at the edge of Reichardt Duck Farm's property on Wednesday evening, but nobody answered or returned calls.

ABC7's I-team looked into animal abuse allegations at Reichardt Duck Farm in 2014 after an activist got a job there and shot undercover video.

Sheriffs deputies arrested 80 protestors on Monday, most of whom were booked into jail on misdemeanor trespassing and felony conspiracy.

Protestors appeared in court on Wednesday. The Sonoma County District Attorney told the protestors a filing decision has not been made, so they were released. If the DA decides to file charges, the activists will be notified by mail.