Media Release: Investigation Urged After Whistleblower Exposes Animal Cruelty at San Quentin State Prison

Media Release: Investigation Urged After Whistleblower Exposes Animal Cruelty at San Quentin State Prison

SAN QUENTIN, Calif. (Aug 5, 2021) – In Defense of Animals is urging San Quentin State Prison to conduct a swift and thorough investigation after receiving a disturbing animal cruelty report from a whistleblower. Pictures provided to In Defense of Animals show doused birds with horribly swollen eyes and nostrils. 

In Defense of Animals was alerted that inmates in San Quentin State Prison were spraying a commercial-grade disinfectant cleaner, Cell Block 64, in the faces of pigeons and other birds. This disinfectant, which is supposed to be diluted 1:64, causes serious eye damage, respiratory and gastrointestinal irritation and skin corrosion, and leads to a prolonged and agonizing death for birds. 

In a conversation with In Defense of Animals, Sergeant Robert Gardea of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed that a diluted version of Cell Block 64 is given to prisoners to clean the tables, but added that it is not approved to kill or hurt animals in the prison. He is investigating the whistleblower report.

“I am horrified by reports that porters at San Quentin are accused of allowing and encouraging inmates to commit acts of cruelty that are in clear violation of California law. Society is calling for an overhaul of our prison systems to preserve the dignity of inmates and institutionalize programs that protect prisoners from unwarranted harm and prepare those who will return to society to live fulfilling and beneficial lives. Establishing respect for animals and acting as their guardians is a vitally important part of building a fair and equitable society,” said Marilyn Kroplick M.D., President of In Defense of Animals.

Cell Block 64 carries the warning “Damage can be an expensive and frustrating result of improper care or cleaning, so it’s crucial that employees are knowledgeable on cleaning and disinfecting protocols for the various items within a space.” This further substantiates the known effects of violating its prescribed use.

The use of this product to harm or kill animals is a violation of and California Penal Code 597 covering animal cruelty and Title 8, Section §5144. Respiratory Protection. A violation of Cal/OSHA regulations is $13,653 per offense. Penalties are increased for willful, repeated offenses.

In Defense of Animals is calling on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which manages the state’s prison system, to investigate this allegation. 



Fleur Dawes,, 415-879-6879 

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Press Office,, (916) 445-4950



In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 38-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as sanctuaries and hands-on animal rescue facilities in India, Korea, and rural Mississippi.

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