OPEN STATEMENT RE: FALSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HEN HARBOR
I founded Hen Harbor sanctuary in 2012, after having worked for nearly two decades for The Humane Society of the United States -- first in its legislative department in DC and later as an animal cruelty caseworker in California.
I also spent several years as a consultant for one of the largest farm animal sanctuaries in the country, documenting the institutionalized cruelty against farmed animals. It was during this time that I became keenly aware of the immense suffering inflicted upon chickens in particular, and the glaring gap in the animal rescue community that largely overlooks them. I started Hen Harbor alongside other advocates and rescuers to address that gap.
Hen Harbor has rescued, rehabilitated and provided comfort and hope to countless. otherwise hopeless animals since its inception, working on a shoestring budget and with an all-volunteer workforce. Our adoption coordinators work tirelessly to find good homes for healthy, adoptable birds, while we grant permanent spaces at the sanctuary for older and special-needs birds.
Unfortunately, our sanctuary work has been disrupted in recent months by a person named Savannah Jhee (aka Savannah White, aka Savannah Espinosa). Jhee surrendered 40+ chickens to Hen Harbor and signed over their ownership after she was incarcerated in 2017. Despite admitting she could not care for them and despite relinquishing legal ownership, Jhee attempted to take back all 40+ chickens -- and actually did take several from the sanctuary -- via a court proceeding without Hen Harbor being given (legally required) notice of the proceeding.
The following day, the court reversed its position after hearing from both parties and ordered all birds Jhee removed from Hen Harbor to be immediately returned. To date, Jhee has failed to do so and she is currently in defiance of that court order. Jhee has in fact fled the state by her own admission in order to avoid complying with these court orders.
Jhee also has several warrants for her arrest and multiple restraining orders against her. This is all public record and can be verified at the Santa Cruz County court website. Jhee’s mugshots depicting her appearance prior to fleeing the state and the court order are available at mugshotssantacruz.com
Following each court ruling against her, Jhee escalated the matter through a defamatory publicity campaign against myself and the sanctuary. This campaign is based on knowing and reckless fabrications and misrepresentations designed by Jhee to bully Hen Harbor into abandoning the chickens who now have safe homes, and to ruin the work and reputation of Hen Harbor.
Hen Harbor provides veterinary care to every individual, and has taken in some of the most difficult cases that others will not touch (Our total veterinary costs in 2017 exceeded $25,000.) We are able to do so thanks to our donor base, whose generosity also provides medical supplies, housing, feed, and a continual supply of organic fruits and vegetables for the residents.
In fact, Hen Harbor has spent thousands of dollars on the animals relinquished by Jhee in 2017 alone, providing them not only with feed, bedding and shelter, but also extensive (including surgical) veterinary intervention. Jhee has not reimbursed any of these expenses.
On top of her ongoing criminal cases in the Santa Cruz county superior court system (Case Numbers 17CR06604 and 17CR01262), Hen Harbor has also learned that Jhee is being investigated for identity theft by Austin, Tex., police department (Report Number 2017-8003370). We mention this not to attack her, as we are aware of her guilt or innocence, but because this accusation fits the pattern of dishonesty we’ve experienced from Jhee in obtaining an ex parte court hearing without any emergency, in obtaining the initial court order (which the court quickly reversed) allowing her to take the chickens, and in Jhee's many fabrications and misrepresentations in her defamatory publicity campaign against Hen Harbor and myself.
Hen Harbor and I do not deserve being Jhee’s target. Her defamatory publicity campaign takes time and resources from the animals we care for and we will have to endure any loss of income she causes. We choose not to engage these falsehoods further as engagement is time consuming and causes the attacks to increase.
We hope our good work will speak for itself and that you will consider the source when weighing the validity of Jhee’s defamatory publicity campaign.
For the animals,
Ariana Huemer on behalf of Hen Harbor