A group of people posing as vegan activists have caused the closure of a much-loved family-friendly cafe after reportedly taunting staff and customers and stealing livestock belonging to the business.
John and Penny Gommans, owners of The Gippy Goat in Yarragon in rural south east Victoria, announced the closure of their cafe following a long streak of targeted “harassment”.
In an emotionally charged post to the business’s Facebook page, the couple said they had come to the decision to close the cafe after months of relentless abuse.
“This was not an easy decision to reach, however for the sake of our health and safety and that of our families and staff we feel that it is regrettably the best option,” the post read.
“Our staff and customers have been subjected to nearly four months of constant harassment, vile statements and threats from the abusive vegan activists.
“We have personally been subjected to an appalling stream of threats of extreme violence against ourselves, our family, our staff and even their families.
“Our staff have been subjected to daily threats and harassment by phone, and we cannot in good conscience ask them to continue working under such a condition.”
The closure followed an incident in December where a group of individuals stole three goats and a lamb, with one person involved being fined $1 last month for each theft, and ordered to pay $250 compensation.
The Gommans were unsatisfied with the result of the legal proceedings, labelling the outcome as “ineffectual”.
“The enforcement agencies declined to prosecute to the full extent, so, to the thieves, trespassers and activists; you have won…eight good people are now without a job, families no longer can enjoy the good food and open space, and children can no longer interact with our animals.
“Society is the loser; the anonymous bullies, hypocrites, law breakers and self-professed paragons of moral and social justice have won.”
The farm-turned-cafe manufactures a variety of goat milk products, and up until Sunday allowed families to feed the goats and watch them being milked.
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“Our farm will continue to operate as before, but is no longer open to the public. We are truly sorry for any disappointment this may cause,” the post read.
The announcement attracted more than 6000 comments, including thousands of messages of support for the family.
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