Spring Summer 2005 Poultry Press << Previous

Humane Officer Confirms Cruelty to Chicken But Declines to Charge College Student

In the Fall 2004 issue of PoultryPress, we reported the savage butchering of a chicken by an art-class student at the University of California, Berkeley in February 2003. We asked people to urge university officials to seek prosecution of the student and to enact a policy banning the use of animals in art or performance. Unfortunately Humane Society investigator Nancy Frensley rejected charging the student. Citing CA Penal Code 597, which prohibits "malicious and intentional" cruelty to animals, she decided the student had not acted cruelly with "malicious intent."

UPC thanks activists Betty Albertstein, Mr. and Mrs. Lopez, and Linden Martineau whose letters resulted in the release of Officer Frensley's report in which she recommended that the university prohibit acts of animal cruelty.


Dr. Robert C. Dynes, President, University of California, 1111 Franklin St., Oakland, CA 94607.
Ph: 510-987-9074. Fax: 510-987-9086.

Dr. Robert J. Birgeneau, Chancellor, University of California-Berkeley, 200 California Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720. Ph: 510-642-7464. Fax: 510-643-5499

Officer Nancy Frensley can be reached at the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society, 2700 Ninth St., Berkeley, CA 94710. Ph: 510-845-7735. Fax: 510-845-3652. Email: Nfrensley@Berkeleyhumane.org

Assembly Bill 1685, by California Assemblyman Johan Klehs, would outlaw the slaughter of pigs, rabbits, goats, chickens and other animals on high school campuses in California and allow student to opt out of parts of their agricultural classes that harm animals. 20% of CA high schools surveyed slaughter animals. California residents should urge their assembly member to support AB 1685. Write to your assembly member at the State Capitol, PO Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249. Call 916-657-9900 for assembly member
information or click on www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/titletext.htm.

UPC’s Letter to UC Berkeley’s Animal Care & Use Committee

May 24, 2005

Dr. Richard C. Van Sluyters, Chair

Animal Care and Use Committee

University of California, Berkeley

201 Northwest Animal Facility

Berkeley, CA 94720-7160

Dear Dr. Van Sluyters:

Responding to your letter of May 6, 2005, I am not satisfied with your handling of the episode in which an art-class student hacked a chicken twice with a meat cleaver in February of 2003. There is no evidence of "thorough investigations by the campus and a deputized humane officer" because, while both parties duly issued written reports, neither has produced a necropsy report. Berkeley East Bay Humane Society Officer Nancy Frensley concludes her report of her interview with Professor Kevin Radley that following two blows with the meat cleaver, the chicken "struggled and flapped" and Professor Radley "remembered there being a white towel in the area and he immediately scooped up the dying chicken into the towel and took it out of sight. The chicken did not die immediately." WHEN AND BY WHY METHOD, UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES, DID THIS TORTURED BIRD DIE? AND WHERE IS YOUR NECROPSY REPORT?

In your report you flippantly and falsely stated that this partially-slaughtered chicken "was handled in a humane manner by the student prior to its death" and was subsequently "cooked and eaten."

Finally, Dr. Van Sluyters, you falsely wrote in your ACUC report that the method employed by the student was accepted by the AVMA, when in fact the 2000 Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Panel on Euthanasia stipulates that decapitation is a form of euthanasia only in a specified situation that "requires training and skill." The AVMA considers decapitation only "conditionally acceptable if performed correctly." Moreover, the AVMA notes that even if performed "correctly" by a trained and skilled individual, there is evidence that decapitation may not be a humane procedure due to the "presence of electrical activity in the brain following decapitation."

In short, the handling of this case by you and your committee has been, throughout, insensitive, unprofessional, and misleading. You appear to have presumed that no one would bother to see what the AVMA actually says in its report on euthanasia, and to have taken advantage of the fact that while birds in general and chickens in particular have been scientifically characterized as having neurophysiological responses equivalent to those of mammals, birds continue to be unjustly and unscientifically unregulated by the federal Animal Welfare Act, despite the fact that the intent of the Act was, and is, to protect all warm-blooded animals used in research and in certain other designated areas of institutionalized exploitation. If the art-class student had mutilated a dog to show "the nature of the link between food sources and processed foods in contemporary [KOREAN] culture," would you and your committee and the University of California, Berkeley have handled the slaughter in the same dismissive manner with rhetoric, falsehoods, and lack of evidence as you have done in this case?

So please, let us hear no more about how such acts as were done to this poor bird in Professor Radley’s classroom are "already governed by federal laws, regulations, and policies," etc. etc. etc. Produce an authentic necropsy report on this chicken who, while still alive and in great pain following two meat cleaver assaults resulting partial dismemberment, was brutally stuffed into a box by the professor in whose classroom a student felt free to behave in this cruel manner to a helpless bird. Without the necropsy report or a report on the condition of the blade of the meat cleaver or any other evidence to show, your protestations merely attach shame to yourself, your committee, and the university, and inspire disgust and lack of confidence on every level. I urge you to take your university position more seriously and responsibly and compassionately than you did in this pathetic case of extreme animal cruelty, which should have resulted in charges being filed against the student.

Thank you for your attention.


Karen Davis, PhD


United Poultry Concerns

PO Box 150

Machipongo, VA 23405

Phone: (757) 678-7875

Fax: (757) 678-6070


C: President Robert C. Dynes; Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, UC Berkeley; Joseph P. Mullinix, Senior Vice President, UC; Nancy Frensley, Berkeley East Bay Humane Society, Professor Kevin Radley, UC Berkeley

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in food production, science, education, entertainment, and human companionship situations and promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. www.upc-online.org


Spring Summer 2005 Poultry Press << Previous