A “calm” protest turned into a living nightmare for animal activist Cara Garrett.
A 24-year-old animal rights activist says she fears for her life, after 'liberating" three goats and a lamb from a Victorian cafe in December last year.
Cara Garett was one of 70 activists who confronted the ‘Gippy Goat Cafe’ and farm in Gippsland, Victoria - to highlight what they see as animal exploitation and mistreatment.
“One [goat] in particular was on her knees and couldn't get up,” says Cara.
Mel - the ‘getaway driver’ - agreed.
When we approached them, they were all unwell, they had their babies taken away from them, the mothers were upset, distressed.
Cara was taken to court over the incident.
She maintains she was liberating the goats, but the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court deemed it theft and fined her $250.
On top of that, she was required to pay two $1 fines for for removing an identifying ear tag from a stolen goat, and a further $1 for housing livestock without a Property Identification Code.
“At court I was prepared for whatever outcome I got, we maybe got a outcome that was quite lenient but morally it was very fair.”
But for Cara, her problems had only just begun.
“[The public] weren't happy and wanted to take the law into their own hands and were very detailed about how they would have done that.”
Soon Cara’s full name, home address, parent’s home address and even her car registration was plastered over social media.
Then came the death threats.
“I feel really threatened here because I live alone, I'm only 24, the closest police station is like 20 minutes away.
“All these trolls know that as well which makes me even more uncomfortable about living here.”
“I think moving house will help a lot, I will hope that no one is going to give away my address,” she said.
“I still feel like they will find me, I get messages all the time that say that no matter where I go they will always find me.”
Farmer says his staff ‘monstered’ by activist group
John Gommans is the farmer who runs Gippy Goat Cafe. He remembers the events of Cara’s animal ‘liberation’ a little differently.
“They turned up at 6:30 in the morning and in the morning and immediately went to the petting zoo,” Gommans told The Feed.
Our three staff were monstered by 70 yelling, screaming people in black shirts.
“Half a dozen of them went into the yard, picked up the goat, loaded it into the back of the car, and took it away.”
Although not present on the day, Gommans says the ordeal caused his staff extreme stress.
Upset with the court’s mild punishment for the activist group, he took to Facebook to vent.
However, he believes that the posts had nothing to do with the abuse Cara copped.
“Her name, address and location are court records, they are public documents, so I don't think that it's at all relevant whether her name appears on our Facebook site,” Gommans said.
The Gippy Goat Cafe has closed since the incident, but still runs as a farmhouse and is the home to numerous livestock.
Gommans told The Feed the closure has had an economic impact on himself and his business.
Activists were quick to point out that the farmer previously served as Executive Director of ‘Bubs Australia’, an infant food and formula company which earlier this year reported a $3.75 million dollar half-year profit.
In response to the altercation with Cara and the animal activists, Gommans has teamed up with local National’s MP Melina Bath to petition for stricter punishments.
“Animal activists regularly conduct activities that are outside the law, and they need to be deterred and penalised for their actions,” Gommans said.
“Unfortunately the courts don't always protect the victim, I've learnt that the politicians don't necessarily stand up for the rights of the electorate.”
Produced by Colin Cosier