[Ed. Note: Never say never! This farmers' market ending the sale of live birds was something that was considered "impossible," "will never happen," etc., etc. Activists began this campaign in early 2009, culminating in this April 2011 victory. This is is a major breakthrough for birds and for markets where live animals are sold like so many widgets.]
Activists’ Efforts Result in Victory for Animals and Public Health
For over two years, local animal advocates Andrew Zollman and Alex Felsinger have led investigations and protests of live poultry sales at San Francisco’s Heart of the City Farmers’ Market—but starting next month, the sales will be banned.
Today the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market announced on its website (http://hocfarmersmarket.org/News%20&%20Events.html) that live bird sales will no longer be allowed effective May 27, 2011. Both Raymond Young Poultry and Bullfeathers Quail will no longer be welcomed at the market, which is held Wednesdays and Sundays in San Francisco’s UN Plaza.
The activists, organized under the name LGBT Compassion, congratulate the market for finally deciding to make animal welfare and public health a priority after nearly two decades of allowing the cruel practice. The activists had urged market management and many government officials to stop the blatant animal cruelty and public health risks, along with many other violations of local, state and federal laws.
The market’s manager has said that Raymond Young Poultry used to sell over 1,000 factory-farmed birds twice weekly, and LGBT Compassion estimates that Bullfeathers Quail bred and sold at least 350 birds each week at the market. The change in policy will prevent the sale of over 100,000 live animals for food every year.
The January lawsuit filed with the California Superior Court-San Francisco by Felsinger and Zollman against both the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market and Raymond Young Poultry is still in progress. The lawsuit addresses repeated violent attacks and civil rights violations suffered by Zollman and Felsinger at the hands of market and vendor personnel.
The activists have had success protesting live animal sales at other farmers’ markets in the Bay Area. In September 2009, Zollman and other activists successfully shut down New Long’s Live Poultry, which had operated in a parking lot near the Alemany Blvd. Farmers’ Market.
More recently, live bird sales at the Old Oakland Farmers’ Market were banned as a result of the activists’ discussions with management.
The activists’ efforts to stop similar violations at the Richmond, CA farmers’ market will now increase, as it is the last known Bay Area farmers’ market to continue to allow live bird sales. The market is currently under investigation by Contra Costa Animal Services for animal cruelty. The Richmond City Manager’s office has so far refused to enforce laws and the market’s land use agreement, relying instead on other government agencies for enforcement.
Investigations of the cruelty, health, and environmental problems surround the sale of live animals for food at other stores and markets will also be increased.
LGBT Compassion was founded by Andrew Zollman and Warren Jones, who have long suffered oppression and threats of violence because of their minority status, and continue to fight for their own rights. Zollman and Jones work to inform the community of the parallels between oppression and abuse of animals and certain groups of humans, as well as promote the animal welfare, health and environmental benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
LGBT Compassion extends its deepest gratitude to nonprofit organizations United Poultry Concerns, In Defense of Animals, Bay Area Vegetarians, Farm Sanctuary, and other organizations and activists who provided important support to the campaign. It also wishes to thank Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary, San Francisco Animal Care and Control, MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue and Palo Alto Animal Services for re-homing birds rescued from these and other live animal markets.
Recent media coverage:
SF Bay Guardian, February 15, 2011: http://www.sfbg.com/2011/02/15/playing-chicken
SF Chronicle, front page, January 7, 2011:
SF Examiner, front page, January 7, 2011:
NBC Bay Area January 10, 2011: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local-beat/Live-Chickens-Sold-at-SF-Farmers-Market-113222984.html
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