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Animal rights protesters target Laton dairy

An animal rights group who took a calf from a Laton farm over the summer returned Tuesday, staging a protest outside the operation.

Others got on the grounds.

“Anybody who's listening who thinks dairy is less cruel than meat, they are brainwashed. That is not the case,” says Alexandra Paul, an actress and activist with Direct Action Anywhere.

Video the group released from July showed Paul and others taking a calf from a hutch at Zonneveld Dairies.

“We don't believe you can steal an animal. They don't belong to a farmer. They are themselves, individuals,” Paul said.

But Fresno County Sheriff’s Spokesman Tony Botti differs.

"Letter of the law, it is theft,” he said.

Deputies kept a close eye on protestors – and at one point, confronted some who got on the grounds for a second time.

"Here's another calf, who is covered with manure,” Paul said, during a live broadcast on Facebook. “Pretty much every calf is covered with manure."

"The calves in these hutches are often covered in diarrhea, many of them are extremely underweight and Roselynn was being eaten alive by maggots," said Direct Action Anywhere spokesperson Cassie King.

Roselynn is the name given to the calf taken in July.

FOX26’s cameras spotted workers checking out and feeding the calves.

Dairy is a major economic industry in the Central Valley.

Cattle and calves were worth $424.8 million in 2016 in Fresno County.

Some protestors said they were mindful of that.

"I don't want to see anybody lose their jobs. I want to see industries be able to switch to industries that are more sustainable and more ethical," said Porshe Arneault, who lives in Madera Ranchos.

She was one of a handful of protestors from the area.

The majority came from the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

But Arneault insists, it’s a movement growing locally.

Deputies did not cite the protestors who made it on the grounds.

The owners chose not to press charges for the calf taken in July.

In a statement, the company says, in part, "We use a science-based approach along with a professional veterinarian and nutritionist to ensure we are adhering to the highest industry standards. Animal care has been and always will be a top priority for Zonneveld Dairies."

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