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S.F. Urged to Ban Sale of Live Animals for Food

November 15, 1996| From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Citing animal cruelty, a city commission Thursday recommended banning the sale of live animals for food, despite protests from hundreds of Chinese American residents.

The city's Animal Care and Control Commission voted 7 to 3 to recommend banning the sale of live mammals, birds, fowl, reptiles and amphibians, but not fish. The sales are popular in the city's bustling Chinatown.

The proposal now goes to the Board of Supervisors for consideration.

Several hundred protesters, most of them Chinese Americans, demonstrated outside during the meeting. Chinatown merchants and residents testified, along with a handful of animal rights activists.

"We don't like that they want to ban us from selling any live fish, frog or turtle," said Paul Lee, owner of a seafood market. "To us, fresh food is healthy food. Everywhere in the world they eat fresh food."

In Chinatown, about a dozen such markets offer such wares. Lobsters and fish lie piled in large tanks of water. Frogs and turtles are stacked atop another in wet bins.

Eric Mills, an Oakland activist with the Fund for Animals, says he has seen more than just colorful, lively displays while visiting Chinatown.

"I've seen the shells hacked off turtles when they're fully conscious," he said. "I've seen frogs, eight to 10 in a bag, slammed with a side of a meat cleaver to kill them."

He said the practices are not only cruel but also unsanitary. Frogs and turtles often carry the deadly salmonella bacteria, and sometimes are butchered on the same blocks used for chickens and fish, he said.

But some Chinese Americans say animals have been sold that way in China--and elsewhere--for thousands of years.

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