September 3, 2014
Mayor Mark Olson & City Council Members
Dear Mayor Olson & City Council Members:
On behalf of United Poultry Concerns, I am writing to you about the August episode in which Atwater Police Chief Trevor Berger clubbed a hen to death next
to her coop at the home of Ashley Turnbull and her 5-year-old son Phoenix for whom this hen was a pet with two other chickens and two ducks, according to
We urge you to take Officer Berger’s animal cruelty seriously. It is our understanding that you are currently considering adopting an ordinance that
would allow Atwater residents to keep a few chickens and other domestic fowl. This issue is addressed in our Collective Position Statement on Backyard
Poultry that could be of help to your deliberations on whether to allow residents to keep domestic fowl on their property. Here is the link:
As for Officer Berger, it appears he trespassed on the Turnbull property, and made use of the Turnbull’s shovel to beat to death a helpless bird, in
violation of Minnesota’s Cruelty to Animals Statute which prohibits “cruelly beating” an animal. The fact that the Turnbull family was
keeping the birds illegally did not justify the savage cruelty of this officer including the trauma he inflicted on the Turnbull family, their child and
the neighbor’s child, who witnessed the hen being beaten to death.
Officer Berger should be stripped of his badge. He is a public servant, employed as an officer of the peace. He should have worked with the Turnbull family
and conciliated the complaining neighbor instead of using his badge to be a bully and a thug. He could have taken the birds into custody until the proposed
ordinance was voted on by the City Council. He could have worked to resolve the situation humanely for all concerned; however, his comments quoted in the
media do not demonstrate diplomacy or compassion for anyone involved. Such an attitude is always destructive in a police officer.
Please use your authority to remove Officer Berger from the police force, and make Atwater police officers understand they are not authorized to beat
animals to death simply because the owners of the animals are breaking a nonviolent law. These birds were not violent nor were their owners. They were not
causing anyone bodily harm. Office Berger was violent and completely cruel and vicious in his attack on the hen. He caused intentional suffering and death,
and he violated the animal cruelty statute. He is not fit for the position of public servant, and as is rightly said of such people, he needs counselling.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to your response.
Karen Davis, PhD
United Poultry Concerns
12325 Seaside Road, PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405