Harris Warns of Terror Danger After Arson Hit

Prominent California horseman lost 14 vehicles in attack by animal rights activists.

Prominent California Thoroughbred owner and breeder John Harris, whose Fresno County cattle farm trucking center was attacked by militant animal rights activists Jan. 8, warns that the group claiming responsibility could also pose a threat to horse operations.

Fourteen vehicles -- tractors and several big rigs used for cattle hauling -- from the Harris Ranch Beef Co. fleet were reportedly destroyed in the arson attack. No one was injured in the 4 a.m. torching. The Animal Liberation Front, an underground group that the FBI identifies as a domestic terrorist organization, has taken responsibility.

Harris, who owns the state's largest beef processing and marketing operation, said he was sure that the ALF was responsible after the group confirmed several details in its statement. The former California Horse Racing Board commissioner and chairman said the attack has caused no disruption in the farm's operations.

The farm's nearby horse divison breeding and training facility, where top California stallions Unusual Heat, Swiss Yodeler, Lucky Pulpit, and others are located, was not affected. But Harris said there is reason for some concern.

"The ALF is rather unpredictable in what they might attack, although they want to disrupt any human use of animals for any purpose," Harris wrote in an e-mail to The Blood-Horse Jan. 13. He added that the ALF could target "anyone's facilities involved with horses."

Located in the central part of the state near Coalinga, Harris' sprawling beef feed lots are home to about 100,000 head alongside the northbound side of Interstate 5.

Harris said the loss of machinery was "substantial" but has declined to give a dollar amount on the damages. There have been no arrests in the case so far.

"Several agencies are working the case very diligently," Harris said in his e-mail. "Fresno County Sheriff's office is taking the lead, but FBI, ATF, and several other state and local agencies (are) involved. This was a well planned attack and it may take a break to catch these guys, but I think in time they will be found and arrested."

In the meantime, Harris said he has stepped up security at the farm.

"We have numerous security measures in place and are continually evaluating and upgrading them," he said.

In an earlier statement, Harris said: “We are gratified by the support and concern we have received from the public and the outrage this attack has created. We must live in a society that is safe for all and no one can tolerate violence such as this. ALF and similar terrorist groups pose a real threat, and I am confident that the many law enforcement agencies working on this case will bring them to justice soon.”