Fall 2013 Poultry Press NEXT
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Calgary Student Kills Chicken in School Cafeteria

“Butchering a living being without anything slightly resembling what could be construed as art, except in the most degenerate sense, is not acceptable. . . . This individual was given a pass, which is a disgrace. It sends a terrible message that this is acceptable behaviour under the law and not prosecutable.” – UPC President Karen Davis quoted in “U.S. Activist urges charges in ACAD chicken beheading” by Tamara Gignac, Calgary Herald, April 27, 2013.

calgary student kills chicken
This poor bird lies helplessly in the hands of a male student at the Alberta College of Art and Design
moments before he tortured and killed her for a “performance art” project.

On Thursday, April 18, 2013, a student at the Alberta College of Art and Design, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada killed a chicken with a knife in the school cafeteria in front of other students at lunchtime. An eyewitness said the student “decided to slowly slit [the chicken’s] throat while it’s wiggling, wriggling and screaming,” according to CBC News April 18, 2013. The killing was said to be a “performance” approved by the teacher for a project called “Fact or Fiction.”

The teacher, Gord Ferguson, who was fired then reinstated, shared the school’s position that the student’s behavior was not about ethics or cruelty to animals but merely about perception (“prejudicial to ACAD’s business and reputation”) and design. Said Ferguson: “I think his concept was sound. I think the way he carried it out could have been better designed.”

In a press release, UPC president Karen Davis wrote, “We are joining Canadians for Ethical Treatment of Food Animals to urge investigation and prosecution of this deliberate act of animal cruelty.”

UPC sent letters to the Chief Crown Prosecutor, the Chief of Calgary Police Service, the Alberta SPCA, and the Calgary Humane Society urging that the student, Miguel Michelena Suarez, be charged under Section 2 of Alberta’s provincial Animal Protection Act, which prohibits causing an animal to be in distress, including animals who are injured, in pain, suffering, abused or subjected to undue hardship.

UPC joined Canadians for Ethical Treatment of Food Animals in urging ACAD president, Dr. Daniel Doz, to discipline the student and to adopt a formal policy prohibiting the use of animals, including hurting, confining, and killing animals for exhibition or performance purposes. Students who witnessed the slow killing and suffering of the bird expressed dismay at what they heard and saw– animal cruelty posing as “art.”

“The school and law enforcement together must take a stand against cruelty to animals and hold this student accountable,” Davis said in the press release. “Society expects its prosecutors, police chiefs, and humane societies to uphold the law and not give lawbreakers a pass, especially when the offense is one of extreme violence and gratuitous cruelty to a defenseless animal, as it was in this case.”

Despite eyewitness accounts of the horrific slaughter and suffering of the chicken in the school cafeteria, the Alberta Solicitor General’s office refused to prosecute the student for animal cruelty, claiming: “After a careful review of this case, it was determined there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction and the decision was made not to proceed.”

While the student who committed this atrocity should have been prosecuted by authorities and disciplined by the school, the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) needs to act now to prevent future acts of animal cruelty.

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alberta academy after the killing
After the killing, Alberta Academy of Art and Design, April 18, 2013.
Fall 2013 Poultry Press NEXT