Animal Abuse Is No Way to Celebrate Easter

Here is a photo of me and Christmas, a chicken rescued from an egg farm in Connecticut at Christmas 1996. Christmas had been badly abused and was in terrible shape, but we nursed her back to health, and she was a beloved family member for many years. Christmas loved to fly up onto the couch and snuggle when I was watching TV. She would softly purr and often fell asleep tucked under my arm.

Now another holiday is approaching. For many, Easter is a celebration, but for animals abused in the name of holiday gift-giving, there is nothing to celebrate.
 
In this shocking video , you can witness chicks being dyed to be given as Easter “gifts.” They are dumped into plastic bins, drenched in dye, and tossed the way one would toss a salad. No doubt some of these tiny, delicate birds sustained injuries, and all were surely frightened. Dyeing animals is illegal in half our states; unfortunately, that means it’s still legal in the others.
 
And when Easter has passed? Received as gifts, these unnaturally-colored chicks are more likely to be viewed as “toys” than living things to be cared for. Children should never be taught to view animals as playthings but instead to respect the lives and rights of all living beings. Chicks given as novelty gifts are often abandoned as their colors fade.
 
Chicks require special care that many families aren’t prepared to give, but it’s not just chicks who suffer from holiday novelty gift-giving. Nationwide, rabbits rank third among animals turned in at shelters, many surrendered by people who were not prepared to give longtime care to the cute bunny they took home for Easter.
 
If you were thinking of buying a chick, a bunny, or any other animal to give as a present this Easter, don’t do it! Instead, give a child an actual toy—the kind that’s stuffed with cotton and does not require food, water, veterinary visits, hours of love and attention every day, and years of commitment.
 
If you and your family are ready to provide a loving, permanent home for a chicken, a bunny, or other animal, please adopt from a shelter or rescue group after giving the decision a lot of thought and thoroughly researching how to care properly for these sensitive, complex animals.
 
Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet

 

 

The Myth of Cage-Free and Free-Range Eggs

Every time you buy a carton of eggs – conventional, free-range, cage-free, organic, “certified humanely raised,” or whatever label is put on them – you are paying for the murder of hundreds of millions of baby chicks, 200 million each year in the United States alone. They are thrown in a dumpster and left to die, tossed in garbage bags and suffocated, or more commonly, ground up alive in industrial meat grinders. Why does this happen, you ask?  Wouldn’t it be more profitable to let them grow up and kill them for meat?

Actually, no. It takes a lot of food, shelter and water to raise a chick into a full-grown chicken. Male chickens simply will not grow as big or as fast as female chickens. They also don’t lay eggs. To egg farmers, male chickens are a liability that eat into profits, so they cut their losses early and “humanely euthanize” (i.e. grind up) baby chicks that are only a day old.

Though the males die a relatively quick death, the females will live their entire lives crammed six to a cage so small they can’t stand up or turn around. Chickens are treated as egg-laying machines with no regard for their basic biological and behavioral needs. They are “debeaked,” meaning their beaks are nearly cut off so they can’t peck at each other. Many are put through periods of starvation to force them to molt, which will boost their egg-laying productivity. These hens’ natural life span of 15-20 years is cut drastically short, living only one to two years before they are slaughtered when their productivity declines. Their bodies are so wasted and emaciated that their meat is only able to be used in soups and pet food.

Do you see the phrase “cage-free eggs” and imagine they come from hens wandering free in a sunny barnyard? Think again. “Cage-free” chickens are kept not six to a small cage but packed in giant warehouses. They are still debeaked and still sent to the slaughterhouse when their egg-laying productivity declines.

The label “free-range eggs” sounds much better, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s simply another marketing ploy. In the words of the USDA, “free-range” birds are “raised in heated and air-cooled growing houses with access to the outdoors.” That “outdoor area” is typically a small covered porch or patio with a cement floor, accessed through a small, hard-to-find door. There is nothing “cruelty-free” about getting to spend a few minutes a day on a crowded cement patio where the sunlight never reaches. Once again, the chickens are debeaked, forced to live in their own waste, fed the same antibiotic and arsenic-laden feed that other chickens eat, and are still slaughtered in ways that will make your blood turn cold. Remember: free-range chickens are far from free, and they don’t live on a range.

Organic eggs come from chickens that are fed a certified organic, vegetarian diet (though chickens’ natural diet is not strictly vegetarian). There is still no barnyard or pasture, no space to roam free, and often no sunlight, and the living conditions are still far from cruelty-free. USDA regulations permit egg farmers to confine their hens 24 hours a day if they feel that the weather is too harsh, that there may be a disease outbreak, or to protect soil and water from being contaminated by all of the waste inherent in the keeping of thousands of chickens. There are no clear regulations on any of these factors, and because they are left completely to the farmer’s discretion, are almost never regulated or enforced in any way.

“Certified organic,” “free-range,” “cage-free,” “hormone-free,” “all natural,” “humanely raised and handled” — all of these labels are cynically designed to make consumers feel less guilty about buying a product that is always cruel. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by meaningless labels, and stop paying for the suffering and slaughter of innocent animals.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.

A Ban on Shipping Baby Chicks Through the Mail

The New York Legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit shipping of baby chicks and other small animals within the state through the U.S. Postal Service. It’s about time! How about a national ban?
 
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.
 
Recent news relating to the United States Postal Service has revealed the suffering and death of thousands of newborn chicks in delivery boxes in Maine, Ohio, and other states as a result of mail backups and other issues currently affecting the USPS.
 
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
 
 
 

Cage-Free, Free Range, Organic: All Labels for Suffering and Murder

Every time you buy a carton of eggs – conventional, free-range, cage-free, organic, “certified humanely raised,” or whatever label is put on them – you are paying for the murder of hundreds of millions of baby chicks, 200 million each year in the United States alone. They are thrown in a dumpster and left to die, tossed in garbage bags and suffocated, or more commonly, ground up alive in industrial meat grinders. Why does this happen, you ask?  Wouldn’t it be more profitable to let them grow up and kill them for meat?

Actually, no. It takes a lot of food, shelter and water to raise a chick into a full-grown chicken. Male chickens simply will not grow as big or as fast as female chickens. They also don’t lay eggs. To egg farmers, male chickens are a liability that eat into profits, so they cut their losses early and “humanely euthanize” (i.e. grind up) baby chicks that are only a day old.

Though the males die a relatively quick death, the females will live their entire lives crammed six to a cage so small they can’t stand up or turn around. Chickens are treated as egg-laying machines with no regard for their basic biological and behavioral needs. They are “debeaked,” meaning their beaks are nearly cut off so they can’t peck at each other. Many are put through periods of starvation to force them to molt, which will boost their egg-laying productivity. These hens’ natural life span of 15-20 years is cut drastically short, living only one to two years before they are slaughtered when their productivity declines. Their bodies are so wasted and emaciated that their meat is only able to be used in soups and pet food.

Do you see the phrase “cage-free eggs” and imagine they come from hens wandering free in a sunny barnyard? Think again. “Cage-free” chickens are kept not six to a small cage but packed in giant warehouses. They are still debeaked and still sent to the slaughterhouse when their egg-laying productivity declines.

The label “free-range eggs” sounds much better, doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s simply another marketing ploy. In the words of the USDA, “free-range” birds are “raised in heated and air-cooled growing houses with access to the outdoors.” That “outdoor area” is typically a small covered porch or patio with a cement floor, accessed through a small, hard-to-find door. There is nothing “cruelty-free” about getting to spend a few minutes a day on a crowded cement patio where the sunlight never reaches. Once again, the chickens are debeaked, forced to live in their own waste, fed the same antibiotic and arsenic-laden feed that other chickens eat, and are still slaughtered in ways that will make your blood turn cold. Remember: free-range chickens are far from free, and they don’t live on a range.

Organic eggs come from chickens that are fed a certified organic, vegetarian diet (though chickens’ natural diet is not strictly vegetarian). There is still no barnyard or pasture, no space to roam free, and often no sunlight, and the living conditions are still far from cruelty-free. USDA regulations permit egg farmers to confine their hens 24 hours a day if they feel that the weather is too harsh, that there may be a disease outbreak, or to protect soil and water from being contaminated by all of the waste inherent in the keeping of thousands of chickens. There are no clear regulations on any of these factors, and because they are left completely to the farmer’s discretion, are almost never regulated or enforced in any way.

“Certified organic,” “free-range,” “cage-free,” “hormone-free,” “all natural,” “humanely raised and handled” — all of these labels are cynically designed to make consumers feel less guilty about buying a product that is always cruel. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by meaningless labels, and stop paying for the suffering and slaughter of innocent animals.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.

More Information on COVID-19 and Pandemics

More information on COVID-19 and pandemics you may not know:

It’s easy for those of us in the Western world to shake our heads at the gruesome wildlife (wet) markets in China that are the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic now paralyzing the globe. But what’s more difficult is to be honest with ourselves about what kinds of pandemics may be brewing through our own practice of eating animals.

And while the new coronavirus, crippling as it is, might have a fatality rate (proportion of those infected who die) greater than four percent, this catastrophe may be just a dress rehearsal for an even more serious pandemic that could take a more gruesome toll, akin to the 1918 global flu pandemic, which originated in a Kansas slaughterhouse and killed 50 million people.

When that day comes, it’s very likely that such a virus will also have its origin in humanity’s seemingly insatiable desire to eat animals, wild or domestic. The atrocious conditions in which we raise animals today – crowding tens of thousands of animals wing-to-wing or snout-to-snout – serve as amplifiers for viral pandemics.

Indeed, the H1N1 swine flu outbreak of 2009 originated in a pig confinement operation in North Carolina. Factory farms like this cut pigs’ tails off without any anesthesia; thousands slowly die from blood loss. The pigs are stuffed into crates so small they can’t even turn around. Many die from thirst during transport in trucks packed so tightly that those who collapse or die are trampled by others who, in desperation, frantically seek escape.

And while the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in 1997 (case fatality rate: 60 percent) originated in a Chinese chicken factory farm, a similar bird flu in the U.S. just five years ago led American chicken farmers to kill tens of millions of their birds to contain the outbreak. And at this very moment, both India and China have announced bird flu outbreaks originating in chicken factories.

Chickens, like pigs, are tortured in factory farms, crammed so tightly into cages they peck at each other in despair and madness. To combat this, factory farmers mutilate the chickens with a machine that holds them by the head and slices off their beaks with a hot metal blade. As often as not, the blade cuts too close and millions of chickens starve to death.

But you can only play viral Russian roulette for so long, which is why public health experts concerned about zoonotic diseases have for years been ringing the alarm about the industrial farming of animals. Michael Greger, author of Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, calls factory farming a “perfect storm environment” for infectious diseases. “If you actually want to create global pandemics,” he warns, “then build factory farms.”

A 2007 editorial in the American Journal of Public Health on the topic worried that our mass raising and slaughtering of animals for food could be the genesis of the next big global pandemic. Given the connection between industrial animal agriculture and pandemic risk, the editorial observed, “We need to change the way humans treat animals – most basically ceasing to eat them.”

Such a prescription in 2007 might have seemed off the radar as it would have appeared simply too unrealistic. Today, however, technological progress has made it easier to imagine taking the public health experts’ advice more seriously.

Yes, we humans may crave meat, but our concept of “meat” is now becoming far more diverse than in the past. Whereas “protein” was once synonymous with a hunk of flesh from a once-living animal’s body, today many Americans are embracing a type of plant protein that mimics the taste of flesh. There’s the success of plant-based meat alternatives, for example, which are now a popular part of fast food chains’ menus across the country. Many forward-thinking meat companies have even released their own plant-based meat alternative offerings, too. Today’s plant-based meats have all the taste and texture of anything you can find in animal form. You like burgers, sausages, chicken nuggets? There is an almost endless variety of delicious and easy to find meatless product out there. There are plenty of dairy and cheese alternatives too. Looking for something to do while you’re at home? Check them out and find the ones you like the best. You can also purchase through Amazon any number of vegan recipe books.

Whether the concern is climate change, antibiotic resistance, deforestation, animal welfare, or more, the benefits of leaving off the eating of animals and getting our protein source from a plant-based diet, is imperative.

As we hunker down and weather the corona storm now hitting the world, let us take some of our downtime to contemplate that we have the power to reduce the chance of the next pandemic. Wet markets in Asia and elsewhere MUST be shut down, but let’s not stop there. If we have the will to shut down our entire society for weeks on end, surely we have the will to change our diets.

No one NEEDS to eat animals, and together we can “do no harm” to our animal friends and stop inflicting deadly pandemics on ourselves.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.

The Suffering and Slaughter Behind Those Wings and Nuggets

Humans, not nature, have engineered a domestic species – the chicken – from its wild counterpart in a way that so grotesquely robs them of all of the richness and complexity of their tropical rainforest lives and at the same time renders their bodies lethally obese within weeks of birth. Through genetic engineering, grotesque feeding methods, and massive doses of hormones, today’s chickens look nothing like they did a generation ago.

These gentle, clever birds are raised to be slaughtered at six to seven weeks old. Before they are sent to their gruesome deaths, they are grabbed by their legs and stuffed into crates packed so tight, they are forced to squat in their own waste for hours and even days. Most are sent on their way with fractured wings and legs, bruises, and open wounds.

In open trucks they ride, with no protection from the extremes of cold, heat, wind, rain and ice. Denied food and water, many of them arrive dead from heart failure, hypothermia, dehydration, starvation and heat stroke.

Once at their destination, the chickens who survived the journey are stuffed, head-first and fully conscious, into a metal cone called a “kill cone.” Pulled through the bottom opening, the chickens’ throats are slashed or their heads hacked off with an axe. Thrashing about in agony, the chickens soon – but not immediately – suffocate in their own blood. When you see a packaged chicken marked “humanely raised” in the grocery store, reflect upon this: the chicken industry calls the savage process of murder by kill cone, “humane.”

Chickens are naturally friendly, loving animals. They love to cuddle and bond with humans, care deeply for their young, enjoy taking dust baths to keep clean, and are among the smartest of birds. How is it then that we can love parakeets, cockatoos, and other pet birds who live in our homes while visiting such suffering and violence upon their cousins? Humans have an amazing tolerance for even the most unspeakable cruelty as long as it is results in batter-dipped body parts in a cardboard bucket.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video about Sally, a beautiful and sweet hen who came from a Chicago slaughterhouse and who is now, thanks to her brave rescuers, living out her life at Georgia’s Place Bird Sanctuary. Some images are graphic, but the story will touch your heart.

Peace to all of the animals with whom we share this planet.

Animal Abuse Is No Way to Celebrate Easter

For many, Easter is a celebration, but for animals abused in the name of the holiday, there is nothing to celebrate.

In this horrifying video, you can see the cruel process that chicks may endure when they are dyed bright colors to be given as Easter “gifts.” Although the caption for this video says it was taken in South America, such abuse could take place just about anywhere, including the U.S., where dyeing animals is still legal in about half our states. In the video, you can see how groups of baby chicks are dumped into plastic bins with no regard for their safety or comfort. No doubt some of these tiny, delicate birds sustained injuries—and all the animals felt fear as they were drenched with dye.

The video is hard to watch, but what might be even harder to consider is what happens to the birds after Easter is over. Purchased as gifts, these unnaturally-colored chicks are more likely to be viewed as “toys” than living things to be cared for. Children should never be taught to view animals as playthings but to respect the lives and rights of all living beings. Chicks given as gifts for Easter are most often abandoned even faster than their colors fade.

Chicks require special care that many families aren’t prepared to give, but it’s not just chicks who suffer from holiday novelty gift-giving. Nationwide, rabbits rank third among animals turned in at shelters, many surrendered by people who were not prepared to give longtime care to the cute bunny they took home for Easter.

If you were thinking of buying a chick, a bunny, or any other animal to give as a present this Easter, don’t do it! Instead, give a child an actual toy—the kind that’s stuffed with cotton and does not require veterinary visits, hours of love and attention each day, and years of commitment. If you and your family are ready to provide a loving, permanent home for a chicken, a bunny, or any other animal, please adopt from a shelter or rescue group after giving the decision a lot of thought and thoroughly researching how to care properly for these sensitive, complex animals.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

 

The Cruelty of Egg Farming

In the movie “The Beguiled,” starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page, I played Amy, a tender-hearted girl who loves and nurtures animals. Early in the movie Amy is seen tending to a wounded crow. The crow, whose wing has been injured, is tied to the railing of a balcony so he can’t fly away until he has fully recovered. “I love ya, Mr. Crow,” Amy says as she tries to comfort the struggling bird, “but until your wings are mended, it’s for your own good.” The scene foreshadows the plight of Eastwood’s character, McB, as he recovers from his injuries in the boarding school.

When I think about birds now I think about the horrific abuse birds – chickens, ducks, and others – endure on egg-laying farms. Egg farms continually breed birds so they have a fresh supply of hens to lay eggs. After two years spending their lives in horribly cramped conditions inside huge warehouses, the hens stop laying enough eggs to cover the cost of their feed and are shipped to the slaughterhouse.

If chicks in the hatchery turn out to be males (who, of course, don’t lay eggs), they’re considered useless by-products. Those poor baby birds are tossed ALIVE, cheeping pitifully for their mothers, into the trash, or thrown ALIVE into rendering machines to be ground up and used as feed for other animals.

Female chicks have part of their beaks painfully cut off while fully conscious, because egg-laying hens are forced to live in such crowded conditions they peck at each other. This is why I don’t eat eggs, or any other animals for that matter. Birds such as “broiler” chickens and egg-laying hens are made to live such miserable and painful lives that I simply cannot ethically eat their abused corpses.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

The Suffering That Goes into a Carton of Eggs

In a 1968 episode of “The Flying Nun,” I played a little girl visiting the Convent San Tanco. In one scene, a tiny baby bird falls from its nest in the convent’s bell tower. The baby’s crying for its mama moves me to near tears. Sally Field’s Sister Bertrille uses her ability to “fly” to return the baby bird safely to its nest.

When I think about birds now I think about the horrific abuse birds – chickens, ducks, and others – endure on egg-laying farms. Egg farms continually breed birds so they have a fresh supply of hens to lay eggs. After two years spending their lives in horribly cramped conditions inside huge warehouses, the chickens stop laying enough eggs to pay for their feed, and they are shipped to the slaughterhouse.

If babies in the hatchery turn out to be males (who, of course, don’t lay eggs), they’re considered useless by-products. Those poor chicks are tossed ALIVE into the trash, crying out for their mothers, or thrown ALIVE into rendering machines to be ground up and used as feed for other animals.

Female chicks have part of their beaks cut off while they’re fully conscious because egg-laying hens are forced to live in such crowded conditions they peck each other. This is why I don’t eat eggs, or any other animals for that matter. Birds such as “broiler” chickens and egg-laying hens live such miserable lives that I simply cannot ethically eat their abused corpses.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!