Have you ever heard of a backyard butcher?

It’s pretty much what it sounds like — a person who slaughters animals for their personal consumption. This is legal in California, but a backyard butcher selling meat to the public is not.

Last week Roberto Celedon was arrested and charged with 13 counts –-3 felonies and 10 misdemeanors– of charges ranging from felony animal cruelty to operating a meat slaughterhouse without a license. “The charges could be changed as the case is still under investigation” Jane Robison, Press Secretary, Los Angeles District Attorney’s office told me in a phone conversation.

Current charges are:

  • Adulterating any meat or meat food product – felony
  • Cruelty to animal (brown and white bull) – felony
  • Cruelty to animal (baby black goat) – felony
  • Operating a meat processing establishment or custom livestock slaughterhouse without a license – misdemeanor
  • Operating an establishment not licensed by the department – misdemeanor
  • Operating an establishment that is not clean – misdemeanor
  • Operating an establishment in a manner or under conditions that are not sanitary – misdemeanor
  • Operating an establishment that does not meet sanitary building or equipment standards – misdemeanor
  • Slaughtering livestock capable as use for human food – misdemeanor
  • Illegal slaughter (goat, without rendering the animal insensible to pain) – misdemeanor
  • Illegal slaughter (sheep, without rendering the animal insensible to pain) – misdemeanor
  • Failure to provide sufficient good and wholesome food and potable water – misdemeanor

On April 3, 2012, 58 animals were removed from Celedon’s Santa Clarita, California property by Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (ACC.) A horse (with a severe leg wound that is open to the bone), five cattle, 14 goats and nine sheep were turned over to The Gentle Barn for rehabilitation at the sanctuary. The remaining smaller animals — pigeons, chickens and nine dogs — were sent to the Castaic Animal shelter for a period of quarantine.

Gentle Barn President Jay Weiner told me in a phone interview that at least one of the cows taken in is confirmed to be pregnant. The remaining animals are suffering from malnutrition, parasites, infected open sores, runny noses, hacking coughs and major fevers. Some of the goats are actually blind from untreated eye infections.

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