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Concerns About Backyard Farming, Slaughter

(Editor Note – italics and capital letters are reflected as they appeared in the original submission.)

Dear Editor,

It is a Pandora’s Box, having livestock in backyards of Alameda. The irony is that I abhor factory farming and am a huge advocate for small farms. But we will have some residences with livestock being raised, bred and slaughtered without oversight or concern for neighbors, the environment, or the animals.

Let’s consider that people who have livestock in their backyards, will be, for the most part, on the honor system. I don’t think the city has the resources to make inspections, issue citations, etc. I say this because when I called to ask what the law was pertaining to chicken’s, I had a difficult time getting a return call. When I finally spoke to someone, he literally whined to me about how short staffed they are and all the responsibilities he had. I wasn’t asking him to do anything but answer a question.

I know they all work hard and do the best they can but it made me feel bad for bothering them. So what will it be like when people need help with noncompliant neighbors? That said, whatever laws we enact or use, whether from the city or state, are going to be kind of irrelevant. With all due respect to Alamedans, there are some people who aren’t going to abide by any law. It’s possible that they don’t even know what the laws are. Will we send out a mailer to every residence in a language they can read? (My landlord doesn’t speak English.) My neighbor had a rooster and could not have cared less about the noise. I tried to make the best of it for a year before I had no choice but to call the city and complain. I felt bad having to do that and was really amazed that he would not have realized it was disturbing the peace.

What about animal waste and rodent issues? What about environmental and contamination issues? What about how they are housed and slaughtered? What can renters do when a backyard farm at their residence infringes on their rights? I’m expected to comply with all rules and regulations for the safety, care and cleanliness of the premises and for the benefit and comfort of other tenants or neighbors. A renter also has the right to quiet enjoyment.

I came home one day to witness, in the FRONT YARD, my landlord slowly slitting the throat of a live chicken so he could save the blood in a container for some reason. (We do not have chickens. Maybe he bought it from the neighbor.) Truth is, I don’t have a problem with this in principle, because I’ve seen what happens in slaughterhouses and it could never be as horrible. Although state laws says “the animal must be rendered insensible to pain by a captive bolt, gunshot, electrical or chemical means, or any other means that is rapid and effective before being cut, shackled, hoisted, thrown, or cast, with the exception of poultry which may be shackled”, unfortunately, it’s not adhered to.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I was shocked and stood there for a moment. The landlord laughed because he saw that it bothered me even though I tried to hide it. Are we going to address this or just use state law? How will the law be enforced? I actually think that people should see, first-hand, how the animals they eat are raised and killed. But I don’t eat chicken and wish he had done it somewhere else.

— Holly Rose, Alameda

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