We’re all still reeling from last week’s revelations in The New York Times of animal mistreatment that verges on the sadistic at the USDA’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC). The violent images depicted in the exposé—a pig being dissected alive by an apparently gleeful researcher, a young cow left to die from her injuries after USDA employees immobilized her and allowed her to be mounted by bulls for hours until her legs broke, hundreds of “rag-doll” lambs dead in a field because researchers intentionally left them out in the cold—paint a picture of the USDA’s callous indifference to animal suffering.
Other than a few tepid statements, the USDA has done little over the past week to refute the notion that apathy toward animal suffering is endemic at the agency. The agency’s anemic response certainly raises questions about what other horrors might yet be discovered at the roughly dozen other federal Agricultural Research Services facilities scattered across the country that conduct research aimed at making animal production more profitable.
This week the ASPCA told the USDA that our taxpayer-funded agencies must take their marching orders from the public and not industry alone (see our full letter below). Americans will not tolerate needless animal suffering and won’t allow our public institutions to endorse and perpetrate cruelty.
We urge the USDA to directly address the allegations of abuse at the USMARC and make the structural and cultural changes necessary to ensure that this inexcusable brutality never happens again. We will not turn the page on the gut-wrenching images of abuse until the USDA accepts responsibility and decides to be a leader in eradicating cruelty.
The National Chicken Council calculates that about 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed this Sunday, February 1, when much of America will be watching the biggest football game of the year.
When you see a platter piled high with wings, remember that every pair of wings represents an individual chicken. Here’s what his life was probably like in today’s age of factory farming:
Could barely fly The chicken industry has bred chickens to be up to three times bigger than they used to be, but that weight means they often can’t walk without pain, never mind get off the ground easily. Slower-growing, healthier chickens can perch and even fly up into low branches of trees.
Couldn’t balance Some chickens are so incapacitated by their ungainly bodies that they have to use their wings for balance (like crutches) to shuffle to a source of food or water. The practice is sometimes called “wing walking.”
Could barely move Imagine a football field full of chickens, from one end zone to the other. This is what a typical industrial chicken shed on a factory farm is like: Tens of thousands of birds are packed into giant, windowless structures, living in their own waste. This causes open sores on their chests and feet that can act as gateways to infection. With often less than one square foot of floor space each, birds have no ability to perch, forage or even move easily.
It doesn’t have to be this way! The ASPCA’s Truth About Chicken campaign is encouraging companies to use more humane practices to finally address the suffering stemming from unnatural growth rates and poor conditions.
On December 18, the New Jersey State Legislature unanimously passed S.1870, ASPCA-supported legislation to amend the state’s Pet Purchase Protection Law. The bill would institute new rules for pet stores that sell puppies, including a requirement that these stores inform customers about the sources of the puppies they sell. It would also prohibit pet shops in the Garden State from obtaining puppies from breeders or brokers who fail to comply with even minimal federal and state animal welfare standards.
If signed into law by Governor Chris Christie, the bill will give potential animal owners a chance to make informed decisions, while also putting much-needed pressure on some of the most unethical breeders in the industry to significantly improve their practices. Governor Christie has until early February to sign the bill, and he has yet to reveal his opinion or his intentions.
Thankfully, our friend Jessica Springsteen—an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador, rescue-dog lover and proud New Jerseyan—has stepped up to help by sending a letter to Governor Christie urging him to sign the bill. Governor Christie is a huge fan of Jessica’s dad, and we’re hoping a direct plea from The Boss’s daughter will catch his attention!
The Wall Street Journal recently asked, “Will 2015 Be the Year of the Chicken?” As it noted, today’s modern meat birds are bred to “live fast, die young,” but consumers are concerned—and put off—by the standard practices of the chicken industry. The ASPCA’s Truth About Chicken campaign is working to improve those practices. With your help, it can be chickens’ big year!
If you haven’t seen this incredible drone footage of a North Carolina industrial pig farm, we recommend it. But maybe wait until after lunch. Factory farming is not just bad for animals; as you’ll see, it wreaks havoc on the environment and local communities, too.
California has been in the news a lot lately, as new state laws took effect on January 1 banning cage confinement for pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves. This change reflects consumer values and it’s time for it to spread to other states.
We know that you care about animals and want to protect them from cruelty and exploitation, but that it can be hard to know where to begin. And in this hectic world where so many of us have precious little free time, is it even possible to make a real impact in just minutes? We say “yes, it is,” and we’d love to show you how.
The explosion of online social media and mobile technology means that advocating for stronger animal-protection laws has never been easier. We’ve collected our top five tips for social-networking newbies in an informative, one-sheet E-Advocacy Guide that you can download or even print and distribute to like-minded animal lovers!
Concerned that legislators and policymakers don’t take online advocacy seriously? In fact, the opposite is true: a recent survey of House and Senate staffers revealed that social media interactions are indeed viewed as authentic communication—and even just a few comments from constituents on platforms like Facebook and Twitter are enough to capture their attention.
With the new year comes new legislative sessions in D.C. and in states coast to coast—the time to get started is now. Please download our free E-Advocacy Guide below!