Animal Abuse at San Francisco Live Animal Markets
Live turtles and fish at M.P. Seafood Market in San Francisco. The turtles were frantically attempting to right themselves, and a fish's fins were flapping. Butchering animals while alive and conscious is a common practice for many live markets, but turtles are especially prone to such cruelty as their retractable heads make them difficult to kill. See this video of a still-alive turtle with its shell removed, on display for sale at 99 Ranch Market in Milpitas, CA.
District Attorney George Gascón is claiming that poultry became exempt from all state animal cruelty laws in 2000. Our attorneys disagree. Read one attorney's response here.
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Click here for information about chickens, including the lives of egg-laying chickens such as these.
Live animal vendors at San Francisco's farmers markets stuff factory-farmed animals upside-down in paper bags inside plastic bags, overcrowd animals in direct sunlight with no water, and set aside injured birds for later sale or eventual dispatch. Customers then transport them (often on public transit or in their car trunks, after carrying them around shopping) to their restaurants, apartments or houses and kill them when and how they wish (usually for food, sometimes for ritual sacrifice, and possibly for training hunting dogs), unsupervised and unregulated — these hens and "small game birds" are exempt from California's poultry slaughter laws, and birds (along with rabbits) are exempt from federal slaughter laws.
We also witnessed them handling the live animals in violent and abusive ways: tossing them (in the bags) onto the ground from high on the truck, packing them into cages so tightly they crush each other and can't move or get stuck, forcibly pulling them out of cages from their feet while they cry out in pain and fear, tying their feet and leaving them on the ground, and carrying them by their wings or legs. Some animals escape, possibly to die a prolonged and agonizing death through starvation or exposure, or becoming the responsibility of overburdened animal rescue organizations (including Animal Care and Control).
These markets also sell live "balut," (unhatched bird eggs) — which are cruelly boiled alive.
Cruelty to all animals is prohibited by California Penal Code sections 597(a), 597(b), 597a, and 597t — yet authorities currently refuse to fully enforce these laws when it comes to farm animals - even though no animals are exempt (except to the extent necessary for slaughter for food, for hunting and for research). Additionally, California Food and Agriculture Code section 26602 requires that all persons transporting poultry carry appropriate written records or they may be arrested without warrant.
The Humane Society of the U.S. has a good article discussing the San Francisco live market problems here.
Most of these chickens are "spent" hens from egg factories and breeding facilities, purchased by the markets very inexpensively (as they are not "broiler" breeds worth little for meat). Most have had their beak ends painfully cut off, standard practice for intensely-confined egg-laying hens. Such birds' bodies wear out prematurely — their bones depleted of calcium - after just a couple of years, due to unnatural egg production levels, stress and overall poor health. Click here for more information about commercial egg production and animal welfare.
Animal Subordination and Racism - Eastern Shore Sanctuary
Live Markets & Auctions - United Poultry Concerns
San Francisco Live Animal Markets Sued! - United Poultry Concerns, 1997
News Advisory from the Law Offices of Miller and Miller (trial judge refuses to apply state anti-cruelty statutes)
Southern China Is Not the Only Source for Volatile Live Animal Markets - Humane Society of the U.S.
DA Declines to File Charges (under CA Penal Code Section 597) in California Wood Chipper Case
Dozens Arrested In Oakland Cockfighting Bust - CBS 5