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Inside NYC’s Wet Markets – A “Ticking Time Bomb”

March 30, 2020 by 16 comments


The News

New York City has over 80 wet markets – businesses that sell live animals to the public and slaughter them onsite.  New York’s live animal markets are located in all five boroughs.

Since 2016, public health and animal rights advocates have been sounding alarm bells about the City’s wet markets, pleading with health officials and lawmakers to shut them down in order to prevent the transmission and spread of infectious disease. COVID-19 is believed to have been transmitted from animal to human in a wet market in Wuhan, China.

Sheep and chickens are among the approximately 10 different species of live animals sold at NYC’s wet markets

NYC’s wet markets sell approximately ten animal species, including goats, sheep, chickens, guinea hens, rabbits, pigeons, Muscovy ducks, and quail.  The animals are confined in small cages or pens where they can sicken each other and the people who work and shop there. Animal feces, body parts, feathers and blood are tracked in and out by customers and pedestrians who then carry the refuse on to the subways and into their homes, offices and communities.

Wet markets, or live animal markets, are storefront slaughterhouses that sell live animals to public and slaughter them on site

“New York City’s wet markets are a ticking time bomb,” said Jill Carnegie, a co-organizer with Slaughter Free NYC, an organization advocating to shut down wet markets and other slaughterhouses in NYC. “If avian flu or another infectious disease is transmitted to just one human, it could spread very rapidly in New York City and beyond, as we have seen with COVID-19.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the advocates’ sense of urgency. Slaughter Free NYC is now asking Mayor Bill de Blasio, Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot and Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control Dr. Demetre Daskalakis to prohibit the slaughter of live animals in the five boroughs of New York. In February, the organization launched a petition with its demand.

In a letter to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets, Bonnie S. Klapper, a New York City-based attorney working on several cases involving animal agriculture, wrote that City and State health authorities are turning a blind eye to the well-documented health code violations

Click letter to view in full

The NYC Department of Health claims that it has no regulatory authority over these markets and defers to NY State Department of Agriculture & Markets, but state health officials have told me that these wet markets are never inspected unless they receive numerous complaints,” Klapper told TheirTurn. “That said, no amount of oversight can prevent disease transmission in storefront slaughterhouses where sick animals are coming into contact with humans.”

PCRM Petition to the Surgeon General to outlaw live markets in the United State

On March 25th, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to the Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) encouraging him to call for the permanent closure of [wet] markets:  “Deadly outbreaks of mad cow disease, avian flu, swine flu, SARS, HIV, hoof-and-mouth disease and others have stemmed from capturing or farming animals for food. Live animal markets are perfect breeding grounds for diseases, which can jump from various others species to humans . . . If we’re to prevent future pandemics, we must heed the warning of top coronavirus researchers like Dr. Danielle Anderson, scientific director of the Duke-NUS Medical School, and cut them off at the source.”

In partnership with The Save Movement, an organization that stages vigils at slaughterhouses around the word, Slaughter Free NYC conducts vigils and educational outreach at New York City’s wet markets.


Violent Carriage Horse Death Sparks Outrage in NYC

March 20, 2020 by 1 comment


The News

Distressing video footage of a carriage horse repeatedly collapsing on the street and being dragged into a trailer triggered a massive vigil at the site of the tragic incident and a protest at the midtown stable where she later died. The horse, Aisha, was 12 years old and had been pulling a carriage in New York City for one year when she died on February 26th.

At the request of NYCLASS, an animal rights group that advocates on behalf the horses, the NYPD Animal Cruelty Squad launched an investigation into Aisha’s death.

“To the carriage operators, these horses are commodities,” said Edita Birnkrant, the Executive Director of NYCLASS. “By forcing Aisha into the trailer in order to get her out of public view, the drivers prioritized optics ahead of the welfare of the horse, who should have been kept where she was until a veterinarian arrived to examine her. The carriage operators did not follow the protocol on moving a downed horse. The trauma they caused by treating her with such brutality may have contributed to her death.”

Aisha, a horse who pulled carriages in NYC, repeatedly collapsed and was loaded into a trailer. She was euthanized at a midtown stable later that day.

Footage of Aisha collapsing and a carriage driver blowing smoke into her face to force her into the trailer went viral on social media. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been widely criticized over his failure to fulfill his campaign promise to ban horse-drawn carriages, said that he was “disgusted” by the City’s horse-drawn carriage trade.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for an investigation:

Aisha’s death is the third carriage horse fatality on record in 2020. According to the New York City Department of Health (DOH), the other two horses died of colic.

In addition to the horses who died, one horse collapsed on the street after being electrocuted and crashing into a pole, and another horse was emaciated was documented on several occasions pulling a carriage. In spite of NYCLASS’ pleas, the DOH allowed the horse to continue working.

NYCLASS documented an emaciated horse being forced to pull a carriage in New York City

During the vigil for Aishi, NYC-based musicians Kiirstin Marilyn and Kirk Miller performed Sia’s I’m in Here as dozens of animal rights activists placed flowers on the ground where she collapsed.

The animal rights community in New York has been advocating for a ban on New York’s horse-drawn carriage trade since 2006, when a horse named Spotty spooked on Ninth Ave and crashed into a car, killing the horse and sending the carriage driver to the hospital with serious injuries.

Spotty died after spooking and crashing into a car, sending 3 people to the hospital.

In 2012, Bill de Blasio pledged to quickly ban the industry if he was elected Mayor, but his failure to act quickly after his victory gave the carriage operators, media, the Teamsters Union and actor Liam Neeson, an industry spokesperson, several months to build public support for the industry. NYCLASS, however, isn’t giving up. After the series of tragic incidents in 2020, the organization renewed its demand for horse-drawn carriages to be banned in New York City.

“This industry is out of control and must be shut down,” said Birnkrant. “We have been documenting the carriage operators breaking the law for months — from picking up passengers in Times Square to overloading the carriages.”


Amid COVID-19 Outbreak, Activists Rally at City Hall to Shut Down the 85 Live Animal Markets and Slaughterhouses in NYC

March 18, 2020 by 9 comments


The News

As New York City began to shut down due to the spread of COVID-19, approximately twenty public health and animal rights activists staged a rally at City Hall to demand that city and state health authorities shut down the 85 live animal markets and slaughterhouses in NYC. COVID-19, also known as the corona virus, is believed to have jumped to humans from animals being sold in a live animal market in Wuhan, China.

“Live markets, which are storefront slaughterhouses open to the public, are a petri dish of infectious diseases that jeopardize the health of all New Yorkers,” said Jill Carnegie, an organizer with Slaughter Free NYC.

Amid COVID-19 outbreak, public health and animal rights activists are asking New York City and State health officials, including NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot and Assistant Commission Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, to shut down the 85 live animal markets and slaughterhouses in NYC

After the corona virus outbreak was traced back to a “wet market” in Wuhan which sold wild and domesticated animals for meat, the Chinese government is reported to have shuttered live animal markets across the country.

“The pandemic didn’t happen to us; we brought it upon ourselves because we didn’t learn our lesson from bird flu, swine flu, mad cow, SARS and the many other infectious diseases that jumped to humans from the animals who we eat,” said Maureen Medina, an organizer with Slaughter Free NYC. “Mother Nature has sent us so many warnings, and we’ve put bandaids on all of them instead of taking the most obvious measure to prevent them, which is to switch to a plant-base diet.”

An estimated 85 live animal markets in NYC sell cows, chickens, goats, sheep, guinea pigs, rabbits and others animals who they slaughter on site

Slaughter Free NYC and The Save Movement have been staging vigils and conducting educational outreach at live markets in NYC. Organizers hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be a wake-up call for elected officials and for the New York City Department of Health and NY State Ag & Markets who have, until now, ignored their pleas to shutter the city’s live markets.  Slaughter Free NYC has launched a petition.

Slaughter Free NYC Petition to Shut Down Live Animal Markets and Slaughterhouses in heavily populated five boroughs of New York


Animal Rights Activists Protest Canada Goose’s Flagship Store in NYC

February 26, 2020 by 2 comments


The News

Animal rights activists with Total Liberation New York confronted dozens of pedestrians wearing fur while staging a protest at the Canada Goose’s flagship store in Soho, New York City. Canada Goose, a luxury outerwear company, has been a target of anti-fur activists for several years because it uses coyote fur as a decorative trim on its popular winter coats and claims that the animals are “ethically sourced.”

“At a time when the mainstream public was moving away from fur, Canada Goose normalized wearing it again,” said Shay Navon, a protest organizer with Total Liberation New York. “To make matters worse, the Company preys on its customers good intentions, making them feel good about purchasing fur by claiming that the animals slaughtered for the coats were treated humanely.”

Canada Goose decorates the hoods of its winter coats with the fur of coyotes who are captured in steel leg hold traps and shot in the head

In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission threatened to take false advertising enforcement action against Canada Goose over its claims about animal sourcing, but it decided against it because the company took “corrective action.” Nevertheless, Canada Goose continues to claim on its website that the animals slaughtered for their coats are treated humanely.

On its website, Canada Goose claims that the coyotes and geese slaughtered for its coats are treated humanely

Animal rights activists have been protesting Canada Goose stores in its North American and London retail stores, at the Company’s corporate headquarters in Toronto and at the home of owner, Dani Reiss.

Anti-fur activists protest at the Canada Goose store in New York City


Animal Rights Activists Protest at Manhattan Slaughterhouse

February 21, 2020 by 7 comments


The News

Slaughter Free NYC, a grassroots animal rights group advocating to shut down the nearly 100 slaughterhouses in the five boroughs of New York City, staged a protest at a “live market” in Inwood, a largely Hispanic neighborhood in Upper Manhattan. Live markets are storefront slaughterhouses where consumers can pick out animals in cages and have them slaughtered on site.

The protesters were joined by local area residents who assert that the slaughterhouse compromises their quality of life by polluting their sidewalk with contaminants and exposing them to infectious disease. “You never saw that in a good avenue,” said a local Dominican American man of the slaughterhouse. “This is Hispanic neighborhood. Poor people. They don’t know the infections this could bring to you.”

Activists with Slaughter Free NYC stage a protest and conduct educational outreach at a slaughterhouse in upper Manhattan

Mariolis Espinal, a woman in her 20s who lives on the same street as the slaughterhouse, joined the protest to speak out against both the public health risks and the animal cruelty. “I walk my dog through here every morning, and they leave a lot of dead animals on the floor. It’s wrong, so why is it still happening?”

At live markets in NYC, customers choose the live animals who the want to buy, and workers slaughter them on site.

Slaughter Free NYC launched in January 2020, when local activists learned of a New York City mandate that prohibits issuing new slaughterhouse licenses to any location within 1,500 feet of a residence, which is most of NYC.  “The language of this mandate, passed unanimously, illustrates the very reason why all slaughterhouse operations should cease within city limits, not only new businesses,” said Jill Carnegie, a co-organizer of Slaughter Free NYC. “These slaughterhouses not only pose a health threat, but they also jeopardize property values, exploit workers who are mostly undocumented immigrants, and dramatically impact quality of life for neighborhood residents with horrible odors and sounds of animals fighting for their lives.”

Before the vigil began, several activists entered the live market to document the conditions in which the chickens are held prior to slaughter. “You can hear them screaming. They’re intensively confined. They cannibalize each other. They’re dead in the cages,” said Slaughter Free NYC co-organizer Maureen Medina.

Chickens are stored in feces covered cages until they are purchased and slaughtered

The group is flooding the city reporting mechanism, 311, and New York State’s Agriculture and Markets agency with violation complaints. “Live Markets operate in a grey area between multiple city, state, and federal agencies. According to Jill Carnegie, these agencies consistently pass responsibility to each other, leaving these slaughterhouses free to violate the laws and with little to no oversight.

After customers select the live chickens who they want to purchase, slaughterhouse workers grab them from their cages and bring them into the back room to be killed

“Slaughterhouses are bad for everyone – animals, workers, communities, and the planet,” added Carnegie, “They have a devastating impact on public health and even undermine our struggles against prejudice, inequality, injustice, and violence.”