Chicken Scratch is an ASPCA Blog feature that highlights interesting news about farm animals and farm animal welfare.
A new investigative piece by online media company Fusion brings us behind the normally closed doors of America’s chicken industry, thanks to one fed-up farmer. The six-part series, which can be viewed here, reveals the inhumane, unhealthy conditions that define modern poultry factory farming deeply affect farmers as well as birds. “Producers” like Craig Watts disagree with the way they are forced to raise chickens, but fear of retribution by the big poultry companies has kept them silent—until now.
When Fusion investigative correspondent Mariana Van Zeller enters one of Watts’ poultry sheds for the first time, she is struck by its size and the stench of ammonia. As Watts says, the math is easy enough: 30,000 birds in a 20,000-square-foot shed means each bird has less than one square foot of floor space. With nowhere to move and fast-growth genetics that leave them struggling to carry their own weight, many birds develop raw, open sores on their undersides from languishing in their own waste.
These conditions are designed for maximum profit for the poultry companies, but they have profound consequences on the well-being of animals and the farmers. The poultry industry estimates a 3-5% mortality rate in broiler chickens on farms. That means more than 260 million birds die before they go to slaughter each year.
Although large poultry companies set the birds’ living conditions and have created crippling breed traits, it’s the farmers who are responsible for culling the sick and deformed animals. When Van Zeller asks Watts how he feels having to euthanize so many birds every day, he responds that it is “disheartening on two levels. One, having to do this to a live animal. And two, that I know it’s going to hurt me financially.”
The ASPCA is committed to improving the lives of chickens raised on farms across this country. If you are concerned about this issue and want to request that products from healthier, more humanely raised animals be sold in your local stores, take action at TruthAboutChicken.org today.
Update: The response to our petition to end Greyhound racing in the U.S. has exceeded our expectations—it garnered 100,000 signatures within its first week and is officially one of the top 100 active U.S. petitions on Change.org. Please help us keep the momentum going for these suffering dogs: add your name and let’s hit 200,000 signatures!
This post was originally published on February 11, 2015.
The ASPCA and Greyhound-protection group GREY2K USA yesterday released “High Stakes,” the first-ever national report to comprehensively document the current state of the Greyhound racing industry in the United States.
The eye-opening report [PDF] includes devastating data on the number of deaths (909) and injuries (11,000) suffered by racing Greyhounds from 2008 to 2014—however, these are just the verifiable, reported figures. Along with Alabama, Florida, which is home to more than half of the nation’s active dog racing tracks, does not require Greyhound injuries to be reported at all.
"People don't realize how treacherous the life of a racing Greyhound dog is—broken legs, skulls, backs, severed toes, electrocution, even cardiac arrest because of the stress," says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. "We want people to understand these aren’t dogs playing in a dog park—they are literally running for their lives."
Once their racing days are over, some dogs are killed, others are put into breeding programs, and a relatively small percentage are fortunate enough to be placed for adoption—but no one knows where the vast majority of the estimated 80,000 Greyhounds born into dog racing have ended up.
Due to declining attendance as the public grows increasingly outraged by this “sport,” gaming operations are losing tens of millions of dollars by operating racetracks. States are losing money, too, because it costs more to regulate Greyhound racing than it generates in tax revenue. “This cruel ‘sport’ continues to exploit Greyhounds despite public outcry and overwhelming financial losses,” says Perry. The seven states with active tracks are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia. By contrast, 39 states have passed outright bans on dog racing.
In conjunction with the release of High Stakes, the ASPCA and GREY2K USA are urging state legislators to bring an end to this inherently cruel sport.
You can help—please visit www.change.org/highstakes to sign our petition to the governors of the seven racing states asking them to support an end to dog racing.
In September 2014, a bill was introduced in the New York City Council to require full-service animal shelters be built in Queens and the Bronx, the two boroughs that don’t have them. This morning the bill, Intro 485, had its first Council hearing before the nine-member Committee on Health, and the ASPCA was there to provide support.
Our President, Matt Bershadker, testified on behalf of the bill and urged the City Council to pass and properly fund Intro 485 on a continuing basis, as well as to pick locations for the new shelters that are conveniently accessible to residents.
Queens and the Bronx (combined population: approximately 3.6 million) currently have only animal “receiving centers”—as a result, stray or surrendered animals is these boroughs must be transported to shelters in other boroughs. The Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island shelters already operate at maximum capacity and are out of reach for many residents of Queens and the Bronx who may be searching for beloved lost pets or interested in adopting.
“The current set-up is not just inefficient, but absolutely life-threatening to homeless dogs and cats,” said Bershadker. “The key to saving lives is not just housing these animals, but more importantly, re-homing them. Yet the receiving centers in these boroughs don’t serve that cause. The ASPCA stands ready to work with Animal Care and Control and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to support the city during this substantial, but necessary change.”
Intro 485 has the support of nearly every City Council member representing Queens and the Bronx; 33 of the Council’s 51 members have cosponsored the bill. Please stay tuned to aspca.org for more news on this effort as it develops.
Intro 485's sponsor Council Member Paul Vallone, ASPCA President Matt Bershadker, and Council Member Corey Johnson appeared at a press conference for the bill in lower Manhattan this morning.
We’re all counting on members of Congress to stand up for our nation’s animals—so to remind them of the difference animals make in our lives, we arranged for them to spend a little quality time with some adorable animals yesterday at Paws for Love, a Capitol Hill Valentine’s Day event organized by the ASPCA and hosted by the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC).
During Paws for Love, legislators and staff got to canoodle with adoptable animals from D.C.-area shelters and rescues. The shelters and rescues got to highlight their important work, and, best of all, at least six deserving animals found their forever homes!
Paws for Love was also the first CAPC event of the 114th Congress. Formed in 2009, the CAPC employs non-partisan forums and briefings to highlight important issues affecting animals. The caucus also tracks the progress of relevant legislation, provides members of Congress with credible information, and strives to build broad coalitions in support of common-sense, humane animal welfare laws and policies.
The caucus has two new Co-Chairs this year: Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), both of whom spoke at the event. Reps. Blumenauer and Fitzpatrick have been leading champions of humane issues and demonstrated career-long commitment to advancing animal welfare policies in Congress. The two previously collaborated to introduce legislation that would protect public health and safety by prohibiting interstate commerce in primates for the pet trade, and have supported many other animal welfare legislative efforts including bills to crack down on animal fighting, protect farm animals, and save our nation’s horses from the cruelty of slaughter. The two Co-Chairs will work with new and returning CAPC members to advance animal protection legislation in the 114th Congress.
Check out the photos below to see why Paws for Love is, as many attendees claimed, their “favorite workday ever.”
Representative Earl Blumenauer, CAPC Co-Chair
Representative Leonard Lance meets a dog from Washington Humane Society
Representative Mike Fitzpatrick, CAPC Co-Chair
Representative Walter Jones & ASPCA SVP of Government Relations Nancy Perry
Stacie Gregg and son Declan (ASPCA 2012 Kid of the Year) with Representative Frank Guinta
Erica Striebel from Representative Ander Crenshaw’s office adopted a pup from Last Chance Rescue. His name is Finnegan.
February 5, 2015: The ASPCA commends New Jersey legislators and Governor Chris Christie for enacting a measure to crack down on New Jersey pet stores that source puppies from inhumane puppy mills. The new law, which goes into effect June 1, requires state pet stores to disclose the origins of the dogs they sell. It also prohibits pet stores from sourcing animals from breeders who fail to meet even the most basic care standards prescribed by federal and state law. If you live in the Garden State, please take a second to send Governor Christie a note of thanks.
“The ASPCA thanks New Jersey lawmakers and Gov. Christie for enacting this law and taking a positive first step towards more humane sourcing of puppies by New Jersey pet stores, which will put pressure on the commercial breeding industry nationwide to end puppy mill cruelty and stop placing profit over the well-being of the dogs in these facilities,” said Debora Bresch, Esq., Senior Director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Mid-Atlantic region and a New Jersey resident. “This new law is critical to our continued effort to end the inhumane treatment of dogs in commercial breeding facilities that exploit both the dogs and consumers in pursuit of profit.”