Live chicken sales no longer welcome at farmer's market

May 8, 2011 11:42:16 AM PDT
At one San Francisco farmer's market, you can buy the usual organic produce and fresh flowers, and the not-so ordinary live chickens. For the past 20 years, Raymond Young's Poultry Company has sold hundreds each day. But at the end of the month he is no longer welcome.

The Heart of the City Farmer's Market in United Nation's plaza is kicking him out after two years of protests by activists who say the chickens were treated inhumanely. A group called LGBT Compassion not only protested, but also filed a lawsuit against the market operators.

In Defense of Animals spokesperson Hope Bohanec says the ban on the sales will save 100,000 chickens a year from a "terrifying experience."

"Overcrowded into these cages in the backs of trucks and then being shoved upside down in paper bags and being bothered in numerous imaginable ways," In Defense of Animals spokesperson Hope Bohanec said.

Young considers the criticism an attack on Asian culture and denies the birds are mistreated.

The San Francisco Health Department says it has received complaints over the years about sanitation issues and potential health hazards, but spokesperson Lisa O'Malley tells ABC7 the last spot check in March found no problems.

Animal Care and Control issued a citation with numerous counts covering numerous birds about two years ago, but the district attorney declined to act.

Care and Control head Rebecca Katz says her investigators have gone to the market frequently to check out "lots" of complaints.

"There were times when the birds were definitely overcrowded," she said. She says some were injured and how to be euthanized.

Katz says there were also times when those conditions "didn't exist at all" and the complaints were not valid.

The activists demonstrated for two years and are now declaring victory but the Young family says the protests were an attack on their culture.

The operators of the farmer's market refused to comment for ABC7's story. Young and his daughter Christina have been told to leave by May 27. Those who want live poultry can still go to Chinatown.


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