BAKERSFIELD, CA - A Bakersfield man has been ordered to shut down an illegal slaughterhouse in his backyard. Neighbors say he has hundreds of various animals, he was either selling whole or in parts, while burying leftover parts on his property.
By law, you can't operate a slaughterhouse in a residential neighborhood. But, that's exactly what inspectors found behind a home southeast of Bakersfield. Neighbors say the family that lives there has been raising livestock then selling meat to the public for the last five years.
A sign advertising chickens, quail, pigs and eggs is posted on a tree outside the home. "He's actually butchering and selling animals out of his house right there. They're actually burying what they are not putting in the garbage can. They're burying it on the property," said Jerry Kapitza.
Jerry Kapitza lives across the street from the backyard slaughterhouse. "It's been blocking the driveway, the mailboxes, the fire hydrants, and just even getting them to move their cars so I can take my wife to the doctor, has become a issue," said Kapitza.
"The smell, the flies, things like that. With warmer weather coming, I just really don't want to deal with it this year," he explained.
The slaughterhouse belongs to Gabriel Cervantes. He wasn't home Thursday morning, but his son told 17 News the family started selling chickens to friends and from there it took off.
Some of the animals were sold alive, others were slaughtered. Some of the leftover animal parts are buried in the backyard. He said the family didn't know they were doing anything wrong.
"Facilities like this are not inspected by either Environmental Health or the USDA. So we're not sure if they met the conditions that be required if you were going to sell a product like that," said Donna Fenton, Chief Environmental Health Specialist.
Kern County Code Compliance, Animal Control, and Environmental Health Services discovered the operation last Friday.
"In this case, they had a number of buildings built without permits and the number of animals exceeded the number allowed for zoning," said Chuck Lackey, County Engineering, Surveying and Permits Department.
Inspectors discovered 300 roosters and 22 pigs. The facility was given an immediate cease and desist order to stop selling meat to the public.
"There's a lot of potential for foodborne illness from meat that hasn't been inspected or slaughtered in a location where they may not be using the proper sanitizers and not using the proper equipment," continued Fenton.
Cervantes has 30 days to sell the animals and demolish the cages. His son told 17 News he plans to open up a store nearby or move to Mexico.