The State Department of Agriculture has cited Chris Toole’s experimental urban farm at the city’s animal shelter for a series of violations including unlicensed livestock and poultry dealer, illegal importation of animals and control of rabies in public setting. The report states Toole “is operating in Connecticut as both an unlicensed Livestock and Poultry Dealer/Broker and is transporting animals and poultry interstate and intrastate without proper documentation or testing requirements, incomplete and unofficial identification.” Full report follows and then story update from Brian Lockhart, CT Post.
Subject: Complaint # 2013-52
Christopher Toole, Bridgeport, CT (Address and d.b.a. in body of report)
Violations: (1) Unlicensed Livestock Dealer/Broker, (2) Unlicensed Poultry Dealer, (3) Illegal Importation of poultry and livestock, and (4) Control of rabies in public settings
Status: Open / Preliminary Report
Inspector: Elizabeth Hall, Agriculture Marketing and Inspection Representative
Report Date: October 25, 2013
On October 23, 2013, I assisted State Animal Control Officers Nancy Jarvis and Barbara Godejohn with an inspection at the Bridgeport Animal Control facility property located at 23 Evergreen Street in Bridgeport, CT. The purpose of the inspection was to investigate concerns received at the Department regarding the care and well-being of farm animals housed at that location.
I arrived at the facility at approximately 8:00am and drove through the complex to the last two buildings to the left. I observed 6 LaMancha-Cross goat kids confined in a chain link pen attached to the Bridgeport Fire Training Building – none of which had official identification. There was no evidence to indicate that they had been fed yet that morning and only 2-3 apples were present along with water in a 5 gallon container similar to those used in a spring water dispenser with a narrow opening preventing the animals to access the water.
I observed three donkeys as they approached from a large open area behind the building. They all were in good body condition but one donkey had large portions of hoof wall missing exposing inner hoof structures in 3 out of 4 of its hooves. The only feed available was small strips of grass growing around the building edges, sporadic areas through the pavement and brush/weeds within the fenced areas.
Seventeen goats were observed that included meat, dairy and pet types of various ages, breeds and sexes. Only two of the goats had official identification. One Nubian intact male goat had ear tag number CTML1 18848 and one mature black goat had ear tag CTA 06655. This goat had large visible infected nodules around its neck, lesions consistent with contagious Caseous Lymphadentis (CL), and patches of sparse hair around its ear tips, muzzle and face, signs that could be indicative zoontotic ring worm or mange mites. Mr. Toole later claimed this animal in question is a rare breed of sheep he got from a producer. Both ear tags cited above were applied by Middlesex Livestock Auction which had been issued the tags by USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services in 2007 and 2012. (See attached Animal Identification Number history).
A third, unidentified black, horned, intact male, pygmy goat had a large mass on the side of his face under his beard. (See State ACO Picture) Many of the goats also had a slight cough. While browsing, they were stripping bittersweet, wild grapes and goldenrod within the fenced pens. These areas also had broken glass, bottles and cans and building scraps all of which posed a risk of injury to the animals. Many appeared to have partially healed lesions in the commissure their mouths indicative of contagious ecthyma (soremouth).
I also observed one Vietnamese pot-bellied pig as it approached the fence that had no official identification.
The perimeter fencing is inadequate and in poor condition. Many areas of the fence have large holes and no secure support posts; many areas are blocked by wooden palates. There was no secondary or double fencing sufficiently separating the public to avoid direct contact with animals for which there is not a licensed rabies vaccine (goats and pigs) or, in the alternative, there was no Connecticut Rabies Advisory signage warning the public of the risk of rabies. This constitutes a violation of RCSA §§ 22-359-1 through 22-359-5, Control of Rabies in Public Settings. A copy of the quarantine order and contact information for the department was posted on the main gate between the last two buildings. (See ACO Photo)
We drove back to the first two buildings that are occupied by Bridgeport Animal Control. Posted on the fence next to the first building was contact information for Christopher @ (914) 885-4814 and SAVEfarms.Org. Officer Jarvis contacted “Christopher” Toole, who arrived in a few minutes.
The public has access to the animals through the first pen’s fenced area coming in to the pound. The second pen has approximately 35 chickens, all mixed breeds, a few dog kennels, and a metal nesting box with six nesting areas. Many birds had eye injuries. I also found two wooden produce crates with yellow auction tag numbers 910 and 872 from Middlesex Auction. (See ACO picture). There was no feeder with feed or water available for the chickens. Mr. Toole put water in a bowl shortly thereafter. Ms. Pozdeeva arrived and gave the birds three scoops of strawberries from Food Share barrels.
Mr. Toole and Ms. Pozdeeva said their intended purpose for the animals was renting/ hiring out the animals for brush clearing and public functions. They are partners with The Point, located at 940 Garrison Avenue, Bronx, NY and SAVEfarms at 730 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, CT. These are membership based organizations that claim to be teaching sustainable aquaculture and agricultural practices and also solicit the selling of food to shareholders of community supported fisheries. Mr. Toole said they personally use the unpasteurized goat’s milk in his household. Mr. Toole admitted many of the animals came from Middlesex Auction and some, such as the hair sheep previously mentioned, through private sales in the parking lot at the auction facility and private farms in Sandy Hook. Mr. Toole said all the problems started when he brought in a goat named “Trojan” and that Country Companion Vets treated the animals for pink-eye. Mr. Toole was unable to supply any of the required Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI’s) or Import Permits for the livestock or poultry.
Further inspection behind the first two buildings revealed empty large, glass fish tanks and abandoned equipment strewn about which could also cause serious injury to the animals. Their only available water was a livestock tank with floating plants that contained water that was so black in color that the fish were only visible if they came to the top. Mr. Toole said 1 Tilapia and 30 goldfish were inside the tank to eat the mosquito larvae. State ACO’s Jarvis and Godejohn gave Mr. Toole their orders for improvement of the conditions. I explained that the quarantine order was for Illegal Importation of the livestock and that he needed to have an accredited veterinarian Tuberculosis and Brucellosis test all of the goats; write a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for all of the livestock which must include official identification; immediately report any and all mortality to the department; and that any exposure to the public or movement of the animals would be a quarantine violation that carries a $500 dollar per head fee. I hand delivered copies of Connecticut General Statutes relating to Livestock Dealer / Broker and Importation laws, including Chapter 437, § 22-308 through 22-318, and 22-381 through 22-391, and a livestock dealers license application with the section of the Scrapie Eradication Regulations regarding the movement and official identification requirements for sheep and goats, RSCA §22-278-A 4.
Mr. Toole asked if hitting a goat in the head before slitting the throat was an accepted euthanasia practice under religious beliefs. He cited his demand from the ethnic market and has a Portuguese neighbor who is handling slaughtering in his garage. I explained this was not an approved method and, for him to claim it is a religious belief, it has to be his religion and slaughter for resale has to be done at an USDA approved slaughter facility. Ms. Pozdeeva commented he would have to convert. I also told both of them that animals and poultry could not be purchased from Middlesex Auction unless accompanied by a valid Certificate of Veterinary Inspection with official identification and must meet testing and import requirements and they could not be co-mingled with slaughter-only animals. Mr. Toole claims to be homeless. He has a NY driver’s license with the address of 4705 Henry Hudson Parkway, 14B. Bronx, NY and his van has NY License plate, and a NY Phone number (914)-885-4814.
On 8-24-2013, I spoke with Veterinarian Dr. Kim McClure of Country Companions Veterinary Services of Bethany, CT. Dr. McClure stated that Mr. Toole contacted her in regards to the department’s orders. Dr. McClure stated that Mr. Toole brought three goats to her practice this summer that exhibited signs of contagious ecthyma and CL and advised Mr. Toole that these are contagious diseases to humans, as well as to other goats and sheep, and that he should limit any direct contact between the goats and people. Dr. McClure did not realize that Mr. Toole had so many animals at the facility or that he and his family were consuming the unpasteurized (raw) goats’ milk.
Subsequently, I verified that Mr. Toole has neither a livestock dealer nor poultry dealer license application in-process or newly issued licenses at the time of this report. Mr. Toole, d/b/a SAVE farms or The Point, is operating in Connecticut as both an unlicensed Livestock and Poultry Dealer/Broker and is transporting animals and poultry interstate and intrastate without proper documentation or testing requirements, incomplete and unofficial identification. He is in violation of C.G.S Chapter 437 §§22-381 through 22-391, Chapter 434 §22-325, RCSA §§ 22-359-1 through 22-359-5, Control of Rabies in Public Settings, and violation of and 9 Code of Federal Regulations(CFR) 71,77,78, et al.
From Brian Lockhart, CT Post:
The state has quarantined the city’s experimental farm, alleging that inspectors found sick and poorly fed chickens, goats, pigs and donkeys with injured eyes, mouth sores, broken hooves and other ailments.
And when the Department of Agriculture interviewed owner Chris Toole–who claims to be poor and homeless–he asked if hitting a goat in the head before cutting its throat was an acceptable method of slaughter, according to the state’s preliminary report.
“I don’t want to be unfair, but there’s a number of alarming things here,” George Krivda, a spokesman for the state’s agriculture agency, said Tuesday afternoon.
Full story here.