Which chicken do you want for dinner? The Alexandria City Council will vote Saturday on a special use permit to operate a slaughterhouse and butcher shop with live poultry at 3225 Colvin Street. But a number of neighboring dog-related businesses are concerned that the scent of chickens will arouse the hunting instincts in their clients.
Sandy Modell, the owner of Wholistic Hound Dog Academy, said that all of the dogs and their owners who also go to Frolick Dogs, Dogtopia and Pinnacle Pet Spa & More will be impacted if the business moves into the area.
“We didn’t get any notice, first of all. The applicant, prior to submittal of the SUP did not notify adjacent or affected businesses, which is all of us, really, because we work with dogs and they have 15 times the olfactory capability than humans, so this is a completely inappropriate use,” Modell said. “We all have dogs coming and going from our establishments. To have a slaughterhouse in the vicinity of these businesses will affect the owners and the dogs because there will be a high level of arousal of interest to the dogs because of the scent of these chickens.”
The Alexandria Planning Commission unanimously approved the SUP on March 5, and city staff are recommending that city council approve the action.
Owner Abdul Mused of the DC Poultry Market Corporation, operates 14 other locations around the country and using the Islamic Halal method of meat preparation. The 5,245 square-foot building would devote 864 square feet for a waiting and customer interaction area in the shop. Customers would be able to select a chicken in a cage, the chicken would be removed to the processing area, killed, its feathers plucked and then processed by the butcher.
“We chose Alexandria because there are no places like us that sell organic, free-range and antibiotic-free chicken in the neighborhood,” Mused said. “I don’t think it will have an impact on the other businesses.”
The full-service butcher and Halal facility would be open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The way it works is that live chickens are delivered in coups from an Amish community in Lancaster, PA., three times a week, and transferred to stainless steel cages in view for the customers. A number is attached to the chicken’s leg by a wire, and the customer is given a ticket with the number.
“All meat and poultry we process will be slaughtered strictly in accordance with Islamic rites, where one of the most important prerequisites is the humane treatment of any animal intended for human food,” Mused wrote in the SUP application, adding that the company “believes that concept of Halal involves the whole process of meat production, from the wholesome food feel to the animals in their rearing right through until the meat reaches the consumer.”
Modell, who is not a vegetarian, plans to attend the public hearing in opposition of the SUP.
“It’s a slaughterhouse,” said Modell. “They kill things, they kill chickens. We profess and promote the humane treatment of animals in our positive reenforcement training. They’re claiming they are more humane in their process. These animals are trucked from four to five hours away crammed in cages. They get here and they transfer those chickens from the trucks to the facility to more cages, a windowless area of the facility where they stay for days. They don’t go outside, because there is no outside place for them to go. Then you pick out the chicken that they are going to kill. They are sitting out their demise, so to me thats a bunch of stressed out animals.”