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Victory For Chickens!

October 3rd, 2011 by Webmaster

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Photo from market

On September 27, 2011, the Richmond, California City Council voted to end live bird sales at its farmers’ market, effective November 1, 2011. In Defense of Animals partnered with LGBT Compassion to organize weekly protests, petitions, action alerts and other pressures to convince the city to end the cruel practice of selling live chickens at the Richmond Farmers’ Market.

The Richmond mayor received over 1,000 e-mails from local IDA supporters, and she acknowledged these e-mails at the meeting. Nineteen passionate animal advocates spoke in support of the ban and only two people spoke in opposition. All our efforts paid off with a 4 – 2 vote, with the mayor voting for the ban. Supportive Council Member Jeff Ritterman did a celebratory chair spin and fist pump in the air as the room full of animal advocates gave a standing ovation!

The vendor, Raymond Young, has a history of well-documented and shocking mistreatment of the spent egg-laying hens he sells at market. In 2009, San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control cited Mr. Young for 795 cruelty violations, including overcrowding, injuries, and failure to provide water. This was after he ignored requests for corrections.

At the weekly protests, IDA activists repeatedly witnessed the disturbing procedure of two birds being forcefully yanked from their tiny cage and stuffed upside-down into one paper bag with little ventilation. Most of the birds go immediate into a silent shock, but others loudly squawk and scream in fear and struggle in vain to free themselves. We have video of customers putting the birds in their car trunks and then returning to shop at the market. We witnessed children kicking and violently picking up and dropping the bags on the concrete. If there was a dog or a cat in the bag, these customers could be arrested for animal cruelty – a chicken has the same capacity to suffer as a dog or a cat.

There is no regulation or supervision of what happens when these chickens reach the customer’s house. They could be starved, terrorized by pets or children, and a careless or just unknowledgeable slaughter could cause prolonged and immense suffering. Self-slaughter violates California’s humane poultry slaughter laws, which require poultry to be killed by specific methods at licensed facilities – and for good reasons.

Two years ago, live birds were being sold at four Bay Area farmers’ markets. As of this week, they are sold at none, Richmond was the last to finally ban this practice, thanks to the tireless efforts of many animal advocates.