On the evening of December 14th while most of the city was fast asleep, 30 activists with Chicago Animal Save and Free from Harm, bore the cold and snow to occupy the space in the alley behind Alliance Poultry at 1636 West Chicago Avenue where trucks deliver live birds night after night. But not on this night. Where normally hundreds of screaming baby birds are forklifted off trucks and slammed to the pavement, activists instead filled this space with song, spoken word, inspirational speakouts, a large glowing peace sign composed of candles, colored smoke and lights, and a human barricade ready to block the truck that read, LET ANIMALS LIVE. Check out more photos and video.
Unsurprisingly, the truck never arrived. Portland activist Dani Rukin, who came to Chicago to Facebook livestream the event for indie media outlet Jain Unchained, pointed out that she has often seen trucks cancelled or rescheduled in response to these actions. They don’t want activists to expose the reality they are trying so hard to conceal under cover of darkness.
While businesses like Alliance market a feel-good myth about “organic chickens from Amish farms,” we believe that enough people, when presented with this reality, will reject the few remaining Chicago slaughterhouses and call for their closure. So what does that reality look like exactly?
The Journey from Farm to Slaughterhouse
The terrifying journey begins when “catchers” enter the barns at night while 6-week-old chickens sleep, where they are chased down, caught by the legs, carried upside down and stuffed into crates so tightly they are forced to painfully crouch down for the entire trip. During catching and loading, birds are roughly handled and commonly suffer bruises, lacerations and broken legs and wings. Crates of birds are then forklifted onto trucks, and the journey to the slaughterhouse begins — with no food, no water, no protection from cold, heat, wind, rain or snow — all legal for up to 36 grueling hours. Some of these birds will die in transport from trauma, heart failure, injuries, heat stroke, hypothermia or dehydration.
Once at the slaughterhouse, many will languish in these wretched crates through the night and into the next day since the market offers its customers live chickens killed to order. The sign in the front of the store reads “live organic chickens from Amish farms.” Many birds will watch other birds be slaughtered right in front of them which amounts to stuffing them head first down “kill cones,” pulling their neck through the narrow opening at the bottom and slashing their throats while fully conscious as their bodies thrash in pain for up to several minutes and blood drains out of their mouths and throats. For complete details on the poultry industry see our chicken fact sheet.
Investigation at Alliance
A Chicago Animal Save investigation in November, 2017 exposed unspeakable cruelty and even sadism. CAS Activists were invited to tour the facility and granted permission to film, at which time they witnessed a chicken being boiled alive while still “bleeding out,” another live chicken thrown in a grinder, dozens of chickens panting in the heat, and several chickens suffering from illnesses and injuries, including laying hens with tumors and prolapsed ovaries. The activists were shocked by their discoveries and expressed remorse for the animals as the workers laughed and appeared to take pleasure in killing them.
“This small local business is the best case scenario for animals and its downright horrifying. To promote this as some kind of humane alternative to factory farming is the height of deception,” says Robert Grillo of Free from Harm.
Chicago Animal Save is part of The Save Movement with chapters all over the world.