Toronto chicken ban also prevents ritual sacrifices…

While I sympathise with parents who keep chickens as educational tools for their childen, or who like to enjoy fresh eggs in the morning, there are far more serious aspects to this matter.  Not least is the concern that this will enable followers of Santeria, a religion mixing aspects of African and Roman Catholic practices, to follow their custom of sacrificing chickens for various purposes.

In the U.S. there has been problems with headless chickens and other messes being left at the entrances to courthouses as invocations for successful outcomes in court cases, see here and here.  (See the reference to the Jewish practice of “Kapparot” in the second link).  Interestingly, as religious practices, such behaviour is protected by the U.S. Constitution…

Jeff Goodall.

Toronto committee votes to uphold backyard chicken ban

Toronto Star
David Rider: Jan. 24th, 2012

A city committee has wrung the neck of efforts to merely discuss lifting Toronto’s ban on keeping chickens in your backyard.

The licensing and standards committee voted 5-0 Wednesday to shelve a motion from councillors Joe Mihevc and Mary-Margaret McMahon to ask staff for a report on the feasibility of lifting the ban.

“If you want chickens, go to a farm, buy a farm,” said Councillor Frances Nunziata, a committee member. She also wondered if Toronto police would have to be “retrained” to deal with middle-of-the-night poultry thieves.

“We have enough problems,” added Nunziata.

The vote came after several hours of deputations, mostly from supporters of legalizing the growing urban chicken movement.

They included impassioned pleas from children in two families who have backyard birds.

In a small, plaintive voice, Georgina Hewitt, 7, said of her family’s four chickens: “They are like family to us. I don’t want them taken away.”

On one side were opponents including Liz White of Animal Alliance, who raised concerns about the welfare of backyard birds. She also fears any added strain on a city animal services department trying to cope with both a budget cut and an overwhelming number of feral dogs and cats.

On the other were advocates including Lorraine Johnson, author of City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing, who tried to dispel “the huge amount of misinformation,” about disease, smell, predators and more.

Most major U.S. cities allow backyard chickens in some fashion, she said, and none of the common objections have been found to be rooted in reality.

Unclear now is the status of 14 chicken owners who received notices from the city last year that, as a result of a neighbour’s complaint, they had to get rid of their birds.

The eviction notices were put on hold pending the outcome of Wednesday’s vote.

Mihevc urged city staff to let sleeping dogs — and chickens — lie.

He said the committee is oblivious to a movement where people are getting in touch with their food supply, and it will only be a matter of time before the city allows backyard farming.

See original here.

See “Sheep sacrificed in public park: The joys of diversity…” (July 31st, 2011) here.

See my “Nature / Environment / Critters” category here.