City of Salem denies PETA's request to build chicken statue

SALEM, Ore. - The City of Salem and the Oregon Department of Transportation have denied People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' request for permission to build a large chicken statue at the site of a truck crash that killed hundreds of chickens earlier this month.

Salem Traffic Engineer Kevin Hottman told KATU he denied PETA's request. Both the city and ODOT determined the statue would be a distraction and safety hazard.

PETA wanted to build a statue standing more than five feet tall and weighing 250 pounds at the intersection of Commercial and Division streets. It was designed by "The New Yorker" cartoonist Harry Bliss.

The statue "would serve as a reminder not only to livestock haulers to take extra precautions with their live cargo but also to city residents that chickens are among the most abused animals on the planet and the best way to try to prevent crashes like this is to go vegan so that chickens don't have to make the trip to the slaughterhouse in the first place," PETA spokeswoman Shakira Croce said in a news release.

On July 9, a truck hauling nearly 5,400 chickens overturned and spilled birds into the streets. Salem police said the driver, Patricia Aguilar of Kelso, Wash., was driving too fast when she made a turn, causing the truck to crash onto its side.

Aguilar was not hurt in the crash.

Lt. Dave Okada said "a considerable number" of chickens died in the crash, and many others appeared to have died during the cleanup phase.

PETA sent the following letter to Salem Traffic Engineer Kevin Hottmann:

Dear Mr. Hottmann,

Following the recent crash in Salem, in which hundreds of chickens were killed after a speeding truck driver overturned her trailer, I am writing to ask if you'd please permit PETA to place our crippled-chicken sculpture for one month on the corner of Division and Commercial streets to commemorate the lives lost in this deadly crash.

Designed by Harry Bliss, an award-winning author and a cartoonist for "The New Yorker", PETA's chicken statue is 66 inches tall, measures 60 inches from tail to beak, has a 48-inch wingspan, and weighs 250 pounds. We hope that our statue will let people know that the best way to prevent crashes such as this one is to go vegan, because chickens shouldn't have to make the terrifying trip to the slaughterhouse at all. It will also remind tractor-trailer drivers of their responsibility to the thousands of animals they haul every year as well as to the motorists whose lives are endangered when a tractor trailer crashes.

A link to the image of the chicken sculpture can be found here. Thank you for your consideration.

Danielle Katz