Live Chickens Sold in Sealed Bags by San Francisco Markets
Animal advocates in San Francisco, California have documented extreme cruelty to chickens and other birds being sold to customers by San Francisco’s live animal vendors. Roosters and hens, including former “cage free” hens, are particularly victimized by the vendors, who stuff them into paper and plastic bags for customers to take home - often in their car trunks - to kill as they please for food, ritual sacrifice, and cockfighting. Customers also carry live birds in bags onto buses and rapid transit trains, and live birds are being held and killed in restaurants.
Live Market “Poultry” Are Excluded from California’s Animal Cruelty Law
Although cruelty to all animals is prohibited under California Penal Code 597, “Animal Welfare Provisions - Cruelty to Animals,” an exception appears in Section 597.3 where live-market animals are arbitrarily defined as “frogs, turtles, and birds . . . with the exception of poultry.” Birds such as quails and partridges are classed separately from chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, commonly defined as “poultry” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Singled out for particular cruelty to chickens are Raymond Young’s market at UN Plaza in the Civic Center, and New Longs live poultry market in the parking lot of Good Hope Baptist Church. Though San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control Department has cited Raymond Young hundreds of times, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office will not prosecute vendors, claiming that because “the statutes on animal cruelty very specifically make exceptions regarding the handling of live poultry, there is no legal means to prosecute.”
Animal advocates are currently seeking legal opinions to determine whether live-market “poultry” really are excluded from all protective coverage under California’s animal cruelty law, and whether the only recourse for helping these birds is to change the state law as the DA’s office contends. Meanwhile, market overseers can establish basic humane standards for vendors to:
- Provide fresh water and food for birds at all times in containers that don’t get knocked over and that are not filled with feces.
- Provide shade instead of forcing birds to sit in cages for hours under the hot sun.
- Stop throwing crated birds onto the ground from transport trucks and stop yanking them violently out of the crates.
- Stop holding birds by their wings and carrying them upside down by their feet. Vendors should hold birds upright in their arms.
- Stop tying birds’ feet together and leaving them with their feet tied on the ground.
- Stop packaging live birds in plastic and paper bags for customers to walk away with.
Please urge Amy Brown and Reverend Whiteside to uphold these standards and urge, furthermore, that live animal markets be banned from government and church property in the County and City of San Francisco. Request a written reply:
Amy Brown, Director of Real Estate
Real Estate Division
City and County of San Francisco
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94102
Reverend Rance Whiteside
Good Hope Baptist Church
551 Nevada Street
San Francisco, CA 94110