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Urge Enforcement of Laws Being Broken by Kaporos Practitioners in New York

Animal Cruelty Laws & Public Health Codes Trump Religious Exemptions

Kaporos meaning "atonements" is a medieval custom preceding Yom Kippur - the Jewish Day of Atonement - in which thousands of chickens are ritually slaughtered by ultraorthodox sects in New York City, Los Angeles and elsewhere these groups are located. The Kaporos practitioner – who can swing a packet of coins for charity – swings a live chicken by the legs or the wings around his or her head while chanting about transferring sins and punishment onto the bird.

The chicken is then publicly slaughtered in a makeshift tent and said to be fed to "the poor." In reality, thousands of Kaporos chickens are stuffed dead and alive into plastic garbage bags for city sanitation workers to haul off to landfills at taxpayers’ expense. Before the ceremony, the chickens are immobilized illegally without food, water or shelter in transport crates parked on city streets, often for days in violation of the New York State Anti-Cruelty Law and New York City Public Health Codes.

The fact that Kaporos sites in New York are connected to a religious ritual does not exempt it from laws that are being broken by Kaporos practitioners. While the slaughter itself may be “protected,” the attendant animal cruelties, sanitation and health code violations are not. Therefore, we are petitioning New York State and New York City law enforcement to enforce the animal cruelty law and public health codes being violated by Kaporos practitioners, starting now. Here are 5 examples of the numerous applicable laws that government agencies have a duty to enforce:

1) New York City Administrative Code section 18-112(d) makes it illegal to erect slaughterhouses, including makeshift tents, in the prohibited residential zones of Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. In violation of this law, thousands of Kaporos chickens are slaughtered by practitioners every year in makeshift tents in residential neighborhoods.

2) New York State Agriculture and Markets Law section 353 makes it illegal to deprive any animal of necessary sustenance, food or drink or to torture an animal. Each year thousands of chickens are trucked to New York City from factory farms and made to sit on city streets in transport crates in rain, heat and cold without food or water for more than 24 hours awaiting slaughter. Suspending these chickens painfully and injuriously by their fragile wings constitutes torture under the law. This cruel method of holding the chickens is not essential to Kaporos and hence it is not protected by freedom of religion and is a violation of New York State Anti-Cruelty Law Article 26.

3) New York City Health Code section 161.19(b) requires that areas of slaughter and surrounding areas must be kept “clean and free of animal nuisances.” Kaporos practitioners routinely and illegally put blood, feces and feathers on the sidewalks and streets and in gutters and drains where people and children are walking, creating a significant health hazard.

4) New York City Health Code section 153.09 provides that “No person shall throw or put any blood, swill, brine, offensive animal matter, noxious liquid, dead animals, offal, putrid or stinking vegetable or animal matter or other filthy matter of any kind [or] allow any such matter to run or fall into any street, public place [or] sewer.” Every year, feathers, blood, feces and dead chickens are thrown and put in the streets, public places and sewers by Kaporos practitioners, and the odor of blood and feces is pervasive even after the chickens are gone.   

5) New York City Health Code section 153.21(a) makes it unlawful to “pile up dead animals on the street prior to their disposal.” In 2013, piles of hundreds or thousands of dead chickens were photographed on the public sidewalk at Kaporos Sale and Slaughter Sites including dead birds, blood, feathers and feces.

For documentation of the many animal cruelty and public health code violations by Kaporos practitioners in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 2013, click on Lori Barrett, Esq.’s letter to the New York City Police Department, September 16, 2013:  

September 10 – 13, 2013 – Slaughter of Chickens in Crown Heights in Public Places

http://www.endchickensaskaporos.com/130917letter_to_nypd_crown_heights_kaporos.pdf

Petition Targets:

Local

Deputy Inspector George Fitzgibbon
71st Precinct
New York City Police Department
421 Empire Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11225
Phone: 718-735-0511
Email: Vincent.martinos@nypd.org

State

Stephen Stich, Director
NY Dept of Agriculture & Markets, Division of Food Safety & Inspection
Department of Agriculture & Markets
10b Airline Drive
Albany, New York 12235
Phone: 518- 457-4492
Email: Stephen.stich@agriculture.ny.gov

Federal (This office covers NY State)

Ms. Susan Scarcia, Deputy District Manager
Phone: 215-430-6302
Susan.Scarcia@fsis.usda.gov

Dr. Larry Davis,Deputy District Manager
Phone: 215-430-6304
Larry.Davis4@fsis.usda.gov

Mr. Michael Osifat, District Case Specialist
Phone: 215-430-6218 
Michael.Osifat@fsis.usda.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food Safety & Inspection Service

Mellon Independence Center
701 Market Street, Suite 4100A
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 215-597-4219, ext. 6
Fax: 215-597-4217
24-Hour Emergency: 1-800-637-6681, ext. 6

This petition was delivered to:
  • New York City Police Department
    Deputy Inspector George Fitzgibbon
  • NY Dept of Agriculture & Markets, Division of Food Safety & Inspection
    Stephen Stich, Director
  • USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service
    Ms. Susan Scarcia, Deputy District Manager
  • USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service
    Dr. Larry Davis, Deputy District Manager
  • USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service
    Mr. Michael Osifat, District Case Specialist


Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos started this petition with a single signature, and now has 3,533 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.