To the Commission of Animal Control and Welfare,
As a San Francisco resident, I join Animal Outlook, a non-profit animal protection organization, to raise concerns about recurring animal cruelty at San Francisco’s live animal markets (“LAMs”), violating both California and San Francisco law. I am asking you to use your authority to request that the City Administrator take action, including enforcing cruelty violations at LAMs, policing LAMs to ensure compliance and recommending policies and procedures that will better enable San Francisco Animal Care & Control to protect all animals in San Francisco’s markets. Please take action to end the cruelty animals face at live animal markets across the city.
Animal Outook is seeking enforcement of cruelty laws at San Francisco live animal markets (“LAMs”) after discovering several examples of abuse as part of a 2022 undercover investigation into live markets across the city. While visiting these live markets, our investigators documented multiple cases of what we consider to be animal cruelty violations including:
- A live turtle having their head chopped off with a butcher knife in front of other animals.
- Fish being bludgeoned before being dismembered, and if they’re still moving being hit multiple times with a club or the flat side of a knife.
- Frogs kept in a tub with no water or a small amount of dirty water, and softshell turtles in tubs with no water.
- Fish swimming weakly upside down in small, shallow plastic containers, and fish attempting to swim in small tanks surrounded by dead and dying animals.
- Fish left to suffocate out of water.
- Fish with visible wounds.
- Animals, once purchased, being put into plastic bags while still alive, prolonging their suffering.
Research has shown that fish and other aquatic animals have the capacity to suffer, whether it’s in massive industrial tanks like those documented in our previous investigation of Cooke Aquaculture, in the ocean, or in tanks at urban markets like these.
Live markets like these are not only hotbeds of animal cruelty, they have also been proven to be breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses that cause disease. Live markets in the US have been implicated in at least five outbreaks of the bird flu, and one of the prevailing theories is that COVID-19 was originally transmitted from animals to humans at a live market in China. Live markets put animals of different species in close proximity with each other and to humans, which can lead to the spread of zoonotic diseases.
And these live markets are not in rural areas, away from humans, they are located within cities, near apartment buildings and shops. This cruelty is happening in plain sight.
Tell the city of San Francisco to end cruelty at live markets