Animal advocates rally to end a tradition they say kills thousands of chickens on public streets every year.

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos and other advocates protested outside the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Wednesday.

Kaporos is an Orthodox Jewish ceremony where people swing a chicken over someone's head to absolve them of their sins and then slaughter it.

But protestors said those religious rights shouldn't trump protecting public health.

They want Commissioner Mary Bassett to enforce city health laws that bar blood contaminating public streets and pop-up slaughterhouses.

"The streets that you work and live on are potentially contaminated with the blood and body parts of thousands of animals, which jeopardizes your public health," said TheirTurn organizer Danny Moss.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said kaporos doesn't pose a significant public health threat and that "Our surveillance has shown no increase in illness in the area-- and this ritual is an important practice for some Orthodox Jews."