Baby chicks and other small animals shipped through the Postal Service as “perishable matter” frequently go without food and water for two or more days due to transit delays, long hauls and other situations. They are shipped, not like a dog or a cat whose transit is paid for by a caring owner, but cheaply, like ordinary parcels, without proper temperature, ventilation, handling and care for these fragile creatures.
The business of shipping live birds, primarily baby chickens and ducks, is huge and lucrative, but a terribly cruel and inhumane practice even when nothing goes “wrong.”
An example of what can go utterly wrong occurred on October 8, 2020, when 23,000 abandoned baby chicks died at the Madrid airport. Those still alive were suffering from hypothermia and trying to survive by eating the remains of their dead neighbors, said the police. The neglected chicks were left behind because the cardboard boxes they were shipped in got wet and broke, and they could no longer be transported. The company that runs the airport contacted the shipping company, which chose to do nothing about the dying chicks.
Current law permits baby chicks to be shipped through the USPS as long as they are delivered within 72 hours, but 72 hours from when? When they’re delivered to the post office or when they’re loaded onto a truck? The law does not say.
Crammed together in cardboard boxes with no food or water and only tiny holes to get air, the baby chicks are tossed into trucks, loaded into airplane cargo holds, and piled up in postal distribution facilities and local post offices. Boxes may be exposed to bad weather and extreme temperatures, get damaged when dropped, or even crushed. Even under the “best” conditions, it is normal for many chicks to die of exposure, physical trauma, or asphyxiation before they reach their final destination.
Shipments of chickens, ducks and other small animals through the mail have been identified for decades with the suffering and death of these animals. Chicks are living, feeling creatures — not objects to be stuffed into boxes and dropped off at the post office. Shipping live animals through the Postal Service should be prohibited.
If you live in New York, please contact your state legislators, Assembly and Senate, to support NYS Assembly Bill A4611, which bans “the shipment of certain live animals by postal mail into, within, or to points outside of the state of New York.” Those in other states can contact their legislators to encourage them to introduce a similar bill where you live. Please urge the United States Postal Service*, too, to institute a nationwide ban on shipping live birds and other small animals as “perishable matter” to customers. Please do what you can to educate people about the cruelty and suffering inflicted on fragile birds and others in being shipped as ground mail and airmail. Thank you.
Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.
*The Honorable Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza West, SW
Washington, DC 20260