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Why Did the Chickens (and Cats, Dogs, and Birds) Cross the Road? Because They Had the Right To!

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Photo by Tom Andrews/LAist

November's Prop 2 passed, essentially according rights to chickens--a fact pecked upon by 'No on 8' supporters in protest signs and chants in the election aftermath. Well, give a chicken an inch, and the whole animal kingdom is poised to take their mile, thanks to state lawmakers and the be-feathered or be-furred bills that are heading to Sacramento for approval.

Monterey Park's Mike Eng has "proposed slapping California motorists with a fine and possible jail time if they flee after hitting a jaywalking dog, cat or any other pet or farm animal," according to the LA Times. The measure "would require that drivers attempt to provide aid to an injured critter and notify the owner or animal-control authorities."

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Eng believes that pets play a central role in many American families, but have less protection by law than inanimate objects in the case of a car accident. Questions are arising from Animal Control officials challenging the practicality of such a law:

There is potential danger, [Jon Cicirelli of the California Animal Control Directors Assn.] said, noting that injured animals can turn on people who try to help, reacting in the only way they know how -- by biting or clawing. And, he said, should a motorist be held accountable for hit-and-run on a feral cat that wanders into the road? What about a cow that is hit after escaping onto a remote highway through a tattered fence its owner should have patched?

In addition to bills that "crack down on dog fighting" or put a "ban on docking the tails of dairy cows," there is one that would "make it illegal to let a cat older than 6 months run free unless it is spayed or neutered" and one that would "make animal adoption fees tax deductible." How about the fruits of our sacred chickens' loins? Well, "Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) is pushing anew onto turf already plowed by Proposition 2, that supermarket eggs imported from out of state be from cage-free hens only."

Eng, and others, see these proposals as at the very least opening a dialogue, with lawmakers providing voices for their constituents--so to speak--in the animal kingdom.