Stealing Animals Ordinarily Kept in Confinement

Sahar Adatia.

The owners of a one-legged turkey named Henrietta, who is the star of their animal sanctuary in Indiana, United States, have been left heartbroken after their beloved bird was stolen from its enclosure at the beginning of May 2021.

Erin’s Farm – a not-for-profit animal rescue sanctuary – serves as a forever home for animals in need, and Henrietta was one of the shelter’s most famous residents.

For a large part, this is because Henrietta has a distinctive disposition, namely that the bird has a prosthetic leg due to a rare condition.

Sadly for Henrietta’s caretakers, as the month of May kicked off, the bird was stolen from the sanctuary.

Owner Erin Yanz expressed disbelief and confusion over the theft, saying the pen Henrietta sat in was six feet tall so she was unable to hop over it, also adding that it remained closed.

“Without a trace. She was just gone,” Ms Yanz said, speaking to FOX 32 News.

“7am, I came out and gone. Just vanished. Didn’t make any sense at all.”

Since the disappearance of Henrietta, Ms Yanz said her daughter has had difficulty accepting the situation, especially because she would visit the turkey several times a day.

“She goes through the loss of her animal friends at 10 times the rate that normal kids do,” Ms Yanz said. 

“Henrietta was a friend of hers, and someone who she would visit every day.”

Erin’s Farm Animal Sanctuary Offer ,500 Reward for Henrietta’s Safe Return as Children with Disabilities in the Community Left Heartbroken Over Bird Theft

With no sign of Henrietta anywhere, the owners at Erin’s Farm animal rescue sanctuary have now offered a reward of $1,500 for the safe return of the bird.

The bird’s caretakers have since worked out that the person responsible for the stealing would have had to go through at least three locked doors and gates to get to the bird, ruling out any theories that a predator or animal was accountable.

They have also shared their belief that the incident may have been a prank.

Meanwhile, according to local police, the community at large is heartbroken over the bird’s theft. 

In particular, it is understood that children in the locale – many with disabilities themselves – appreciated the determination that Henrietta displayed, with many even intensely identifying with her.

“They’re survivors, like us,” Ms Yanz said.

“Their disability isn’t going to stop them from hopping around or having a normal life.

“It’s inspiring for kids to see that.”

The reward for Henrietta’s safe return initially stood at $1,000, but in the desperation to locate her, Erin’s Farm increased that amount to $1,500.

Police have also launched an investigation into the theft.

The family who owns the sanctuary is now pleading with the culprit to do the right thing.

“Please, take care of her,” the family has urged.

“If she’s returned harmless by the person who took her or some anonymous person, we will be happy to take her back and we will walk away.” 

Erin’s Farm spans 33-acres and looks after animals including hens, roosters, pigs, goats, horses, cows and turkeys.

Most of these animals and birds are rescued from factory farms.

According to Ms Yanz, last year, Henrietta had to endure a leg amputation because of an infection. 

But that did not break the bird’s spirit.

“Every time I opened the door in the morning, even with her bad foot, she was hopping out the door, happy as can be. The happiest little animal ever,” Ms Yanz said.

“It doesn’t make any sense. 

“She’s harmless, she’s handicapped, she’s the sweetest little thing. She doesn’t hurt anybody. It just seems personal to me.”

Stealing Animals Ordinarily Kept in Confinement in NSW

While some of us might think stealing animals or birds ordinarily kept in confinement would make for a good prank, it is actually a criminal offence.

If you are in NSW, this is reflected in Section 505 of the Crimes Act 1900.

Section 505 makes clear that a person is guilty of stealing an animal or bird ordinarily kept in confinement if they:

  • Steal any animal or bird ordinarily kept in a state of confinement, or for any domestic purpose, but not being the subject of larceny at Common Law, or
  • Kill any such animal or bird with intent to steal the same.

The maximum penalty for this offence is six months in jail, or a fine of $550, or both.  It should also be noted that section 506 of the Crimes Act 1900  makes clear that for a second offence, the maximum penalty is one year in jail.

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