UPC Letter to Pittsburgh City Planning Commission
Re: Zoning to Keep Farmed Animals in the City
June 4, 2010
Director of City Planning
City of Pittsburgh
200 Ross Street
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ms. Ismael:
I am writing to you cordially and respectfully on behalf of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization that addresses and
promotes the humane care and treatment of chickens and other domestic fowl. My purpose in writing to you is about the Open Space, Parks, and Recreation
Plan that is currently under consideration by the City of Pittsburgh. I recently heard that the City is planning for backyard chicken farming, and that
there is now a push for this farming to extend to wide-scale slaughtering of chickens and other animals including cattle, pigs and goats.
Please be assured that I totally support the overall plan to promote sustainable, organic gardening and vegetable growing in Pittsburgh. (I’m a
native of Altoona, Pa and have been to Pittsburgh many times over the years and have always enjoyed my visits. My two closest and oldest friends are
from Pittsburgh where many of our friends and relatives reside.)
However, a plan that would include animal husbandry and slaughter is likely to be extremely counterproductive for reasons I will briefly state for your
Having been involved for over 20 years in complaints about the odors, flies, blood, refuse, sick animals, animal cruelty and disposal problems
associated with live animal markets in urban areas like New York City (the poultry markets being the absolute and abysmally worst of all), I think
there is every reason to expect that similar problems will arise in Pittsburgh which will have to be dealt with if animal husbandry and butchery are
permitted inside the City. In my animal protection work, I routinely encounter cruelty, neglect and filth where animals are being kept and slaughtered,
not only on industrial-scale farms but equally on small farms. There is almost never any veterinary care for these animals, and there is often an
entrenched attitude among small farmers and poultry-keepers that gets passed on to urbanites that chickens and other farm animals can live in
unsanitary conditions and even squalor and need only minimal care and attention.
Given the realities of keeping, feeding, and killing animals as well as manure, flies and rodents, plus grain storage, mold and mildew issues, the City
of Pittsburgh will no doubt have to devote financial and other municipal resources to regulating and enforcing animal husbandry and slaughter laws, if
provisions for keeping and butchering of animals within the City are incorporated in the City code. Will the City’s animal control and humane
services be equipped and willing to add farm animals to dogs and cats? Or will the chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigs, cows and goats be ignored?
As the urban chicken-keeping trend has grown in recent years, our organization and every other animal sanctuary in the country has been inundated with
requests to take in unwanted roosters. Many if not most urban chicken-keepers are purchasing their birds from industrial hatcheries which through
sexing errors and sheer indifference often pack baby roosters along with the hens. This also brings up the fact that contrary to the romantic idea of
raising farm animals locally, most of the birds come from the very factory-farm conditions proponents claim to oppose.
To conclude this letter, while I fully support the overall plan to promote sustainable, organic gardening and vegetable growing, the plan to keep, and
especially to kill, farm animals in the City of Pittsburgh, is not good. I have even heard that the painful debeaking of chickens and tail docking of
cattle could be permitted.
Debeaking is a cruel mutilation of a bird’s sensitive mouth that impedes eating, drinking and preening. Tail docking prevents cows from getting
rid of flies. The debeaking of chickens and turkeys developed in the 1940s as a quick-fix method for dealing with the effects of forcing chickens and
other domestic fowl off the land and crowding them in buildings where the birds could no longer exercise their natural need to forage for food, explore
the ground, and dustbathe and were thereby driven by the deprivation to peck at each other.
(For information on debeaking, hatcheries, free-range, and related information, click on http://www.upc-online.org/freerange.html. To view hatchery footage, go to www.upc-online.org/battery_hens/.)
Thank you for your consideration of my concerns. Please feel free to share my letter with others as you deem fit. I appreciate your kind attention, and
will be more than happy to talk with you directly if I can be of further help. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns
12325 Seaside Road, PO Box 150
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. www.upc-online.org. For information on chicken care and municipal regulations on urban chicken-keeping, please
visit www.upc-online.org/chickens/ and www.upc-online.org/backyard/.