What surprises me in the story is that both the BCSPCA and the Vancouver Humane Society both spoke out against the motion.
“While we sympathize with the interests of local people who want to keep these hens for the sustainability interests, we have concern that not everyone who is interested in keeping these chickens has the necessary knowledge or expertise to raise them humanely,” BCSPCA animal welfare coordinator Geoff Urton told The Vancouver Sun earlier Thursday.Seems to me like this would be a great opportunity for the SPCA and HS to step up and become more relevant to their constituents via education than to try and ward off a learning opportunity such as this. Hey, want some cheap education materials? point folks here to the Urban Chickens blog or over to the Backyard Chickens community or even the urbanchickens.org folks. :^)
Urton said he’s worried urban chickens could be easy targets for coyotes or raccoons and attract rats. What’s more, he’s not convinced that Vancouverites will be able to find a vet able to care for their birds or even know where to buy the right kind of feed.
And who else was against the measure? The BC Poultry Association cited concerns about food safety and avian flu as reasons not to pass the measure. (Let's see, who stands to lose out from folks farming their own eggs from humanely raised chickens? hmmm) And in terms of food security, it's the agribusinesses that are the most susceptible to avian flu in their flocks of genetically compromised birds, not the small flocks of robust chickens in backyards.
Dane Chauvel, the man who started this chain of events when his urban chickens got busted by the cops, sums things up nicely. “If you were a chicken you would be imploring the animals rights activists and the city council to approve this bylaw, because it’s the best thing that can happen in terms of chicken welfare,” he said. “Any resident that has two to four chickens, that means two to four chickens less in a battery cage environment.”
Let's welcome yet another big city to the urban chickens movement!