Five American Activists Charged with Canadian Fur Farm Raid Facing $3.5 Million Lawsuit
from No Compromise Issue 7

By Gina Lynn and Darren Thurston

In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 30th, five Michigan animal rights activists were arrested for allegedly raiding a Canadian mink farm. According to media reports, 1,500 mink were released from Ebert's Fur Farm owned by Tom McLellan, fences were cut, and breeding cards were removed from the cages, effectively costing the fur farmer half a million dollars!

It is believed that McLellan will collect this sum in insurance money but that he will not be insured again. Further, it is probable that this action has put him out of business for good! (The Earth Liberation Front took credit for a similar action at Ebert's Fur Farm two weeks earlier when 250 to 300 mink were released.)

Those charged in the mink raid are Patricia Dodson, 48; Hilma Ruby, 59; Robyn Weiner, 25; Gary Yourofsky, 26; and Alan Hoffman, 47; all of whom live in Michigan. All are charged with breaking and entering and mischief. Robyn and Alan are also charged with possession of stolen property (breeding cards). Patricia is charged with possession of burglary tools.

The five had several court hearings and several delays before they were finally released almost two weeks later, each on $10,000 bail. By this time, two of the defendants--Alan Hoffman and Robyn Weiner--had made damaging statements to the police which were read in court. Alan gave an alleged blow-by-blow account of everyone's actions (including the scouting out of farms in the U.S.), and Robyn's statement included the implication of one of the other activists in a previous raid. Robyn claims her informing was in the best interests of everyone. However, her co-defendant's legal cases have been seriously compromised by her statements, and it has left them feeling betrayed. If Robyn was seriously concerned about her co-defendants' interests, she would have consulted them first and got their approval before taking such drastic action. But the fact is that her statements are damaging and statements such as hers cannot be tolerated within a direct action movement. The same words hold true for Alan who has also cooperated with the authorities.

Robyn has pled guilty to the charges and waived her right to a trial. She has made a deal with the prosecution and it is expected that she will be sentenced by June 13, when the others return to court. All five returned to court in Chatham, Ontario, three weeks later, where they were served with a $3.5 million civil suit by Ebert's Fur Farms, Inc. The owners of the farm are seeking:

$2,000,000 in general damages
$1,000,000 in specific damages
$500,000 in punitive damages
plus legal costs.

The suit claims that 20 years of breeding information was lost; 1,542 minks were released (1,500 female, 42 male); 95 percent of females were pregnant with an average expected litter of six kits each; 1,500 females would have produced 7,125 pelts at $70 per male pelt and $50 per female pelt. The defendants are accused of cutting a hole in the fence, damaging or destroying 100 pens, damaging or destroying 400 drop-in nest-boxes, and damaging or destroying 2 gates. The legal fees and other costs yet to be incurred will undoubtedly be enormous--any help raising funds would be greatly appreciated! Information on where to send donations and letters of support is in the box to the right of this article.

Finally, you might want to take a moment to let Mr. Tom McLellan and his son, Bill, know what a wretched mistake they are making by pursuing a lawsuit against accused freedom fighters: Ebert's Fur Farm, R.R. 4, Blenheim, Ontario, N0P 1A0, Canada - Phone: (519) 676-4969