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Council To Revisit Animal Slaughter Issue

The El Cerrito City Council, which declined to include a ban on animal slaughter in its new animals ordinance, agreed Monday night to reconsider the slaughter ban following appeals from half a dozen speakers.

After half a dozen speakers urged the El Cerrito City Council Monday night to include a ban on backyard slaughter of animals, the council agreed to revisit the issue.

When the council two weeks ago passed a new law making it easier for residents to keep chickens, bees, goats and pigs, the panel declined to include a ban on the slaughter of animals at home.

Although the council had earlier indicated an interest in banning the slaughter of animals, City Attorney Sky Woodruff said a ban would be difficult to craft because it cannot interfere with freedom of speech and religious expression by banning religious conduct that includes animal sacrifice.

So the council incorporated Woodruff's recommendation that the council adopt regulations on health, sanitation and nuisances that would "address the potential impacts of animal slaughter without creating potential constitutional issues or inadvertently banning commonplace activties," in the wording of the staff report for the council's Nov. 7 meeting.

But before the new ordinance's second reading Monday night, several people spoke during the public comment period urging the council to adopt the ban, saying home slaughter of animals is often inhumane and cruel, in large part because many urban animal keepers aren't trained or skilled in animal slaughter.

A chilling moment came when one speaker played a recording of what he said was a goat in death throes, dying of poison. The speaker, Oakland resident Ian Elwood, said he's a member of Neighbors Opposed to Backyard Slaughter.

Mayor Ann Cheng said that her initial "gut reaction" was against home slaughter of animals, but she said she didn't want the city to "get in a position of limiting freedom of religion, freedom of speech."

The council proceeded to approve the second reading of the animals ordinance that was passed two weeks ago, with the understanding that it does not limit the council's ability to add a ban on home animal slaughter at any future date.

Without taking a vote, the council asked the staff to report back with more information on how the city might adopt a ban if it chooses to, including potential legal liability and enforcement options.

Valerie Snider November 22, 2011 at 06:29 PM
The humane treatment of animals takes precedence over kowtowing to fringe religious groups and their practice of animal sacrifice. I'm disappointed in the council members and I disagree with their priorities on this issue. They should have taken a stand against animal cruelty, instead of wimping out and framing this as a health issue.
Marty November 22, 2011 at 09:15 PM
Many people objected to this urban farms ordinance, for good reasons. I mentioned the nusiance (nosie, smells, etc.) and added burden on the police to enforce this law. One person on this forum said the council would rue the day they passed this ordiance. I believe he was correct. The raising and slaughter of animals for food is governed by the California Food and Agriculture Code and other state and federal laws. Does our council intend to hire enforcement officers to monitor compliance? It seems like they are sanctioning, if not aiding and abetting, animal cruelty. To what legal and financial sanctions are they exposing us, the tax payers and residents of this city? You can't get a permit to put impermeable pavement on your property, to mitigate stormwater runoff polluting our streams and bay, but it is OK if farm animal feces and blood gushes out of backyard barnyards? In commercial operations, these effluents are regulated and managed--how so here in Green Acres? Just wait untill the first salmonella, SARS, swine flu, etc. outbreak here in Calcutta by the Bay.
Paul November 22, 2011 at 09:55 PM
I'm disappointed that the City Council insists on revisiting this non-issue. I've lived in EC for nearly 2 decades and don't know of any backyard animal slaughtering opertions, nor have I ever heard any of my fellow EC residents complain of such activities. There doesn't seem to be a problem, yet the commenter above seems to think that this non-change of the law is going to suddenly lead to "blood gushing out of back yards" and a spread of disease and plague. If it hasn't happened before, why will it happen now??? I don't plan on slaughtering any animals, but I grew up in a suburban neighborhood and once or twice a year my neighbor brought home live chickens to slaughter in the back yard. As a result of that experience I have a better understanding of the food chain. I understand what it looks like to kill an animal. I know what a fresh chicken looks like. I don't understand why people insist on living such a sterile life so far removed from reality. I highly doubt that there will be a rush to animal slaughtering in El Cerrito backyards, but I do object to a city government that feels it is necessary to get in my personal business. If I want to grow and slaughter a few chickens, I feel that I should have that right. The real crime here is the mass produced farm products that are for sale at Lucky's and Safeway. If the issue is really animal cruelty, then the sale of factory farm meat in El Cerrito should be banned - not the rare backyard chicken slaughter.
Kyle November 22, 2011 at 10:27 PM
Paul - thank you for this comment. I also thought the use of inflamatory phrases such as "farm animal feces and blood gushes out of backyard barnyards?" was a little over the top. I could say that allowing dog ownership would suddenly result in massive kennels and puppy mills, with hundreds of dogs howling through the night and feces flowing across yards, but that would also be hyperbole. Do people really think that factory slaughter houses are humane? Buying plastic and styrofoam wrapped animal pieces in the store doesn't magically take away the slaughter component of raising animals for food. The article states that a recording was played of a goat dying of poisoning. What exactly does this have to do with animal slaughter? Is someone suggesting that a goat was poisoned as a method of slaughter? To then eat?!?
George McRae November 22, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Thanks Paul and Kyle. the hyperbole is what is the most offensive in the whole discussion. The City and staff who don't come cheap worked for going on three years on a non issue as you put it. I'm pleased that they did. Folks have been raising, keeping hens and bees and what not all along. It's nice that the city finally see the light to make the raising of food on a par with the growing of marijuana. The fear of this maniac ritual gutting and bloody mahem is outrageous and insane. I suppose it's in part because of the vast influx of Santerians from Haiti now residing in El cerrito, or perhaps it's the Satanic churches, who I THINK seeks human sacrifice, leaving hens and goats strictly as a last resort. These people failed to see issue as we El Cerritans experianced it. They used a template of experience in an altogether different community to sully and nearly nullify an effort a long time in coming. The recording of the poisoned goat, while heartbreaking, was in itself outrageous because the discussion was about slaughter for food, not about an accidental or deliberate poisoning. It served to dilute and nullify any arguement they may have carried. Irregardless of the insult to "fringe religious groups".
George McRae November 22, 2011 at 11:03 PM
This is also about vegans who object to the fact that the rest of us, vegetarians (lacto-ovo) included, eat eggs and cheese, and see hens and goats as exploited slave labor, when the love and compassion fostered on these children of God are on an equal footing of offspring. Freedom to raise and foster your own food is fundemental. And as a reminder hens are omnivors and their diet consists of mostly insects, amphibians, worms, mice both baby and adult, and on occasion each other. Vegan, a chichen is not.
Esperanza November 22, 2011 at 11:06 PM
Paul and Kyle, you make excellent points. I do practice raising and preparing my own animals for food. My family has always done this. I see it as a right to practice my food traditions. I also see it as a basic human right to grow and raise my own food free of corporate control and free from the discrimination of interest groups. The vegan organizers of "No Slaughter" have yet to bring forward a case that has been confirmed, not speculated, where animals raised for food are in cruel conditions in Oakland or El Cerrito. I also wondered about the validity of that recording. Who can verify where it even came from? Since when do such things become pivotal evidence to prove a case? It reminds me of the days of spectral evidence.
VanityDog November 22, 2011 at 11:13 PM
When in Rome...... Our Christian religion does not include ANIMAL sacrifice, this is a cruel and ridiculous falsehood used by murderers. Tell them to go back to the terrorist country that condones it.
Valerie Snider November 22, 2011 at 11:14 PM
George, you misunderstood my point. There is no "vast influx of Santerians from Haiti now residing in El Cerrito." Which is one of the reasons why I think the council members were cowards for not including language that prohibits animal sacrifice.
Esperanza November 22, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Marty- Feces and blood are not gushing out of backyards in Calcutta. Have you been to Calcutta? What an odd thing to write about an ancient and culturally rich city. Was there another foreign city you were thinking of maybe?
George McRae November 22, 2011 at 11:24 PM
VanityDog, I like your original post much, much better. The sacrifice you mentioned in the uncorrected post was far more intriguing and humorous
George McRae November 22, 2011 at 11:34 PM
No Valerie, I understood your point exactly. If you listened, the positions the council members made were that they would indeed revisit the issue and carefully craft an ordinance/ response to your position. Your attack on the religious, whatever their form of worship, was what is problematic. You missed in your passionate zeal an opportunity to appreciate my religion which is wry (I would hope) sarcasm. I do feel a lot better knowing there are no swarms of chicken hating Santerians in El Cerrito, and that my concern should be only for the Satanic churches!
Marty November 22, 2011 at 11:53 PM
Coming soon to a town near you. http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/sunrise-commissioner-blocks-muslim-sacrifice-of-goats-and-1948494.html
Marty November 23, 2011 at 12:06 AM
Esperanza, I was just thinking of anywhere raw sewage and excrement fill the streets and waterways, and life is cheap. Calcutta popped into my head first.
Esperanza November 23, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Marty- Have you been to Calcutta?
emily November 23, 2011 at 12:30 AM
Ah, animals raised for food in cruel conditions in Oakland: the rabbit allowed to suffer and die from heat stroke in your backyard and the rabbits allowed to suffer from heatstroke following that death. That was cruel. That is why we are speaking up.
Esperanza November 23, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Emily: I've had veterinarians out to view my rabbits and their habitats. None have cited me for cruelty. I believe your personal beliefs may be coloring your logic.
Frank November 23, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Very good point, Paul. This whole argument of the city supporting animal cruelty by not addressing animal slaughter is illogical if not ridiculous. So much meat sold in stores of El Cerrito that at one point had to be slaughtered. Are we simply turning into a NIMBY community where we just don't want to see animals slaughtered, but totally ok with it that it happens at the Tyson farms in Arkansas? Hypocritical. As for comparison, I much rather see a neighbor raise and slaughter his own chicken than knowing Tyson Foods is out there cramming chicken into overcrowded coops and slaughtering them in the blue room. Unfortunately, I do know a bit too much about chicken farm operations.
Veritas November 23, 2011 at 02:14 AM
It's funny the original issue brought before the EC city council seemed centered around people keeping pet pigs, chickens, pigeons etc, and maybe gathering eggs from the chickens. Now the discussion is about these "urban hobby farmers" killing mammals in their backyard? If you want to play "farmer" go live in a rural area that is zoned for such a purpose.
Valerie Snider November 23, 2011 at 02:24 AM
Yes, Tyson Foods treatment of chickens is appalling. I'm not sure what it has to do with a City of EC ordinance. I guess your logic goes something like this: Tyson chicken is sold in EC grocery stores. Tyson Foods = bad. Therefore, if my neighbor wants to take a hatchet and chop off his chicken's head, he has my blessing!
Mike November 23, 2011 at 02:27 AM
Esperanza - For someone who claims to be concerned about economic inequality and food justice you seem eager to defend Calcutta. There is horrific poverty and stratification there. Anyone who wants to see the kind of abject poverty the Indian ruling class allows to exist in Calcutta can click here: https://www.google.com/search?q=Calcutta+slum&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source Are you really concerned about poverty and food justice or is it just about being trendy and self-centered? Marty - Point made.
Valerie Snider November 23, 2011 at 02:38 AM
My tolerance of religious worship does not extend to individuals or groups that practice cruelty to animals. An ordinance passed in the City of EC should reflect the values of this community. An ordinance passed in this community SHOULD "interfere with freedom of speech and religious expression by banning religious conduct that includes animal sacrifice."
Frank November 23, 2011 at 03:24 AM
Yes, exactly. For sustainability of food source, lowering carbon footprint, promoting humane animal farming practices, educating our children in the price of a plate of chicken (cost in lives, not dollars), and promoting a system where we are not so disconnect from the food we eat, I would fully give my neighbor my blessing for slaughtering his chicken.
Esperanza November 23, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Mike: From what I read, you are saying that if I do not see Calcutta as a place where "excrement fills the streets," or if I see it as having value, then I am supporting food injustice and economic inequality. I guess I just had a different experience of India...when I actually went there. The thing of it is, the tone of several of these comments seem to be from an extreme minority that wants to criminalize eating meat, however it is procured. And that they want to utilize local governement to make it so. It also seems by the tone that the same folks are deeply xenophobic and make outrageous blanket statements about ethnic cultures. So if you want to talk equality here, we may want to appreciate that other people's religious and food practices are also of value and deserve the freedom to be expressed. We may want to recognize that not any one culture should have control over the law of the land but rather we need laws that can enable the most freedom to practice our basic human rights.
Veritas November 23, 2011 at 06:42 AM
I don't see anyone writing anything about banning eating meat George. This is about people disturbing the peace in a residential neighborhood with their animal killing and sacrifice or whatever you want to call it, when there is already a place for that i.e. a farm in a rural area.
Mike November 23, 2011 at 07:54 AM
Esperanza: Your rich, privileged experience of Calcutta? I'm happy that you or your family are rich enough to travel through India. Obviously, anyone who can't afford the plane fare couldn't possibly object to the extreme stratification there. I'm sure you didn't spend any time walking through the slums. I have had friends and business colleagues who traveled to India and were horrified by the acceptance of extreme poverty there--by the office buildings right next to slums with starving children (and livestock). You're concerned about your supposed human right to kill rabbits but you didn't notice any slums or extreme poverty while you were in Calcutta? You're not concerned about the rights of the poor in India? If that's the case you seem to lack empathy and compassion towards other humans.
Esperanza November 23, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Mike: It is a common error to pass judgement on things one knows nothing about, such as assuming a narrow perspective of a place never experienced, or to make an assumption about who a person is because they have been to that place and holds a different opinion. I believe that mechanism of judgement without knowledge is called ignorance. You don't need airfare to know that. Though if you did know anything about me personally, you would know that your comment of me being "rich and privileged" is ironic. Since this thread is no longer about the actual topic at hand, having the right to grow and raise your own food, and has become a tactic of illogical and inappropriate accusations, I am going to leave this comment area. Though I will say that this kind of expedient argument reminds me of witch hunting.
Yvonne November 24, 2011 at 12:23 AM
Hi Esperanza: I see the logic in your desire to continue your family's tradition, but there's a significant demarcation between the process of growing and preparing vegetables for harvesting, and the process of growing and preparing animals for slaughter. Some proponents of urban animal agriculture appear to be sidestepping a significant issue by commonly focusing on one misconception: that opponents of urban animal agriculture would rather animals be raised and harvested within large scale operations, where volume is such the priority that severe neglect and abuse takes place. Indeed, it's a fact that the nature of "factory farming" places virtually no emphasis on animal welfare. This notwithstanding, is it possible there's folly in the assumption that all who may decide to pursue urban animal agriculture will be educated, experienced, and skilled at it? Is it not possible that without regulation and oversight, neophytes, who lack the initiative to properly equip themselves to be backyard farmers, would commit animal neglect and abuse far worse than on factory farms? Although on a smaller scale, would not the suffering be just as intolerable to the animal? Would it not be more conscientious to consider the issue with this broader perspective? Of course, there are the additional issues of environmental degradation, noise concerns, and economic burdens placed on local police departments and animal services agencies. These should not by any means be overlooked.
Yvonne November 24, 2011 at 12:32 AM
Esperanza: You mention 'The vegan organizers of "No Slaughter" have yet to bring forward a case that has been confirmed, not speculated, where animals raised for food are in cruel conditions in Oakland or El Cerrito.' Was the investigation into the attached case not conclusive? Thanks. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/30/BA7R1K4D93.DTL
Frank November 29, 2011 at 06:07 AM
What a sad case of a terrible animal owner. Can we use that to generalize about all those who raise animals?

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