Atwater Police Chief Trevor Berger, far left, sits with the Atwater City Council during its meeting Wednesday to discuss a backyard chicken ordinance.
(Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange)
In August, Atwater, Minnesota Police Chief Trevor Berger went on the property of a local family and proceeded to beat to death with a shovel and decapitate
a small red hen in response to a complaint that the family was keeping 3 chickens and 2 ducks illegally. In doing so, Officer Berger violated the Minnesota Cruelty to Animals Statute which prohibits “cruelly beating” an animal.
Learning about this outrage, we posted an Alert in September urging the Atwater City Council to reject any proposal that would allow residents to keep
chickens. To read the Alert, click on
Pet Chicken Decapitated by Minnesota Police Officer: Take Action!
United Poultry Concerns also wrote a Letter, cosigned by Minneapolis-based Chicken Run Rescue, to Atwater City Attorney Brad Schmidt urging prosecution of
Officer Berger and explaining why Atwater residents should NOT be permitted to keep chickens or other domestic fowl. To read the Letter, click on
United Poultry Concerns and Chicken Run Rescue Urge City Attorney to Prosecute Police Officer for Animal Cruelty and Oppose Chicken-Keeping in Atwater,
On October 2, 2014, a story in the West Central Tribune reported:
“No chickens in Atwater and no discipline for police chief.”
The story, by reporter Carolyn Lange, with whom we shared our Letters to Atwater City officials, referenced our Letter to City Attorney Brad Schmidt as
After the story of the chicken being killed was first published in early September in the West Central Tribune, a group based in Machipongo, Va., called
United Poultry Concerns and a Minneapolis organization called Chicken Run Rescue launched a campaign calling for Berger to be prosecuted for violating the
Minnesota statute barring cruelty to animals.
The groups also urged the Atwater City Council to reject any ordinance allowing chickens, citing concern that if the town’s own police chief can
commit a crime against an animal, then Atwater residents may do the same.
“What message does law enforcement send to Atwater residents when a police officer is not held accountable for his violent crime, and is actually
treated publicly as if he did a good thing by beating to death a small, helpless bird with a shovel?” said the letter, which was sent to city
officials and the media last month.
“Humane citizens do not beat helpless animals to death or support those who do,” said the letter-writers, who also urged the council not to
approve an ordinance out of concern that a lack of education about how to care for chickens could result in animals being poorly cared for.
We are very grateful to everyone who took the time to contact the Atwater, MN City Council, the Mayor, and the City Attorney urging prosecution of Police
Chief Berger and rejection of any ordinance that would allow Atwater residents to keep chickens. We grieve for the little hen who suffered the brutal
beating by Officer Berger.
– United Poultry Concerns and Chicken Run Rescue