Bruce L. Akey, MS, DVM
Assistant Director/Assistant State Veterinarian
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
Division of Animal Industry
10 B Airline Drive
Albany, NY 12235
Dear Dr. Akey:
In regard to your letter dated July 27, 2005 in which you replied to my letter of June 24, 2005 requesting an inspection of the Ely Live Poultry market in the Bronx: thank you for your reply. Clearly this market should be permanently shut down based on the numerous violations that you cite, but allow me to connect this observation to the final paragraph of your letter in which you expressed concern that the four birds depicted in our videotape of the Ely Street market, titled "Inside a Live Poultry Market," were apparently illegally moved and that such movement could aid in the spread of avian influenza.
- As depicted in the video, birds, including sick and malnourished birds, are continually being "moved from" (sold by) this market, without any evidence of authorization by, or presence of, the commissioner of agriculture as required by NYCRR Part 45.6 (b)(2)(e).
- Whether such birds as those depicted in the video were retailed to customers or stolen from the market by the videographer or any one else has nothing to do, per se, with the spread of avian influenza or the potential spread of the disease. What does affect the spread of avian influenza is the moving of live birds in and out of the Ely market and others like it.
- If the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is sincerely interested in preventing or minimizing the spread of avian influenza, a relevant and appropriate action would be to shut down such markets and, at the very least, to require that all birds coming into the markets be slaughtered on the premises, rather than, as is now the case, sold alive to any buyer without regard to the health or sickness of the bird or the buyer’s intended and ultimate use of the bird.
- Birds sold to customers at the Ely market and similar live animal markets in New York State are used in Santeria rituals, slaughtered in customers’ kitchens, let go to wander in Central Park and elsewhere and there is no oversight or tracking of this post-market movement by the Department.
- With regard to the videotaping of the Ely market on December 22, 2003, the videographer walked into the market with a camcorder in full view, as noted in the video’s narrative. She made no effort to hide the camera and she purchased the two sick ducks and the two dehydrated pigeons before exiting the market. She did not steal them.
- However, as noted, from the standpoint of spreading avian influenza, the sale versus stealing of birds has no bearing whatever. What does have a direct bearing on the spread of avian influenza is the Department’s allowing live birds to be "moved from" the market to be disposed of any old way by anyone. At least the four birds depicted in the video were "moved from" the filthy, inhumane market by a person with compassion for their sickness and suffering. And she paid for the birds because the important thing was to get them out of that pathogenic hellhole that the Department allows to stay in business.
I would appreciate your response to the issues and concerns that I raise here. They amount to: why doesn’t the Department, at the very least, prohibit the sale of live birds from the market as a necessary, if not sufficient, step toward curbing the spread or potential spread of avian influenza?
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your attention.
Karen Davis, PhD
United Poultry Concerns
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405
C: Joseph Corby, Director
Division of Food Safety and Inspection
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150