It’s not uncommon—though frankly still bizarre—to see live and personified chickens in fast food commercials that encourage their own processing and consumption (Saturday Night Live illustrated that bizarreness well in a 1993 parody).
But even more disturbing are recent ads that celebrate specific and unquestionably cruel chicken raising practices. Clear cases of abject animal suffering are being played for laughs, but you can bet real chickens don’t think it’s funny. And nor should we.
Take the latest Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s spot “Large Breasts” for their Big Chicken Fillet Sandwich. In it, chickens walk around with their breast areas blurred, as an announcer explains, “The FCC prohibits showing large breasts on television…unless, of course, it's in a sandwich. Introducing the biggest, tastiest chicken breasts in fast food.”
The alarming truth about big chicken breasts, as explained in our “The Truth About Chicken” campaign, should inspire repulsion, not rejoicing.
These days, chickens intended for consumption are strategically bred to maximize the amount of breast meat, even at great—sometimes fatal—cost to their welfare. Thanks to a horrific combination of selective breeding and rearing practices, most of today’s chickens are growing at a rate three times faster than they were 60 years ago. The clean, healthy, chickens you see in that commercial bear very little resemblance to actual broiler chickens ultimately winding up on your tray or in your bag.
This rapid and unnatural growth rate strains their hearts, lungs and bones. Unable to support their massive bodies, many have trouble standing, and spend much of their lives lying in their own waste with open sores and wounds.
In some cases, the birds’ breasts grow to such extreme sizes that they can suffer from conditions like “green muscle disease,” in which parts of the breast muscle dies and rots from lack of circulation, even while the chicken continues to live. As our campaign explains, there are better, more humane ways to raise chickens.
Another perplexing new parody comes from Burger King, called “Subservient Chicken.” In it, a formerly popular chicken—actually, an actor in a chicken suit—faces hard times, ultimately finding itself in a satirical cockfight.
The satire isn’t designed to enlighten audiences about animal fighting; it’s designed to sell more chicken sandwiches. In May, while the ad was portraying cockfighting as a light, comical occurrence, we were in Virginia, assisting authorities in raiding a major cockfighting ring involving more than 500 birds. Just last February, we assisted with the sheltering of as many as 4,000 roosters and hens associated with cockfighting in the largest cockfighting case in New York State history.
Cockfighting is crueler than you might think. Injuries include punctured lungs, broken bones and pierced eyes. Gaffs—long, dagger-like attachments—are attached to the birds to make them more deadly, and steroids or other drugs are often administered to make the birds more aggressive.
At the triumphant end of the Subservient Chicken commercial, our resurrected hero, now named “Chicken Big King,” finds himself not only back in the spotlight, but “back with Burger King’s new sandwich, aptly named Chicken Big King.”
So Chicken Big King is back…and wants people to eat him for lunch. Still bizarre.
In a civilized society, whether its members eat chicken or not, people shouldn’t tolerate animal abuse anywhere, for any reason. Selling more sandwiches is no justification for minimizing or lampooning abject suffering, even if the effect is inadvertent, or exists because not enough people are aware these funny fictions are actually real-life cruelties.
Fast food gives people the opportunity to buy cheap chicken. As you watch these commercials, I only ask that you consider the price chickens are paying as well.
Today is National Running Day, celebrating one of the best ways to get healthy and stay in shape. Although many people prefer to run solo, you might have an eager running buddy right in your own home! Besides keeping your pet in good shape, a healthy dose of daily exercise also helps prevent behavioral issues in dogs such as chewing, hyperactivity, and rough playing. Going for a brisk walk or run is also a great way to bond with your pup, and there are even 5Ks that cater to the canine fitness crowd!
Here are a few of our top tips for bringing your dog along on your next morning run:
1.Young pups on the run: While energetic young dogs might seem to be the perfect running partner, dogs under 18 months of age should not participate in sustained periods of jogging or running since their bones are still growing.
2.Prevent chronic pain: Rule out any health or joint issues with your vet before taking your dog on the road or trail, and keep an eye out for any signs of soreness or discomfort both before and after an exercise session.
3.Conditioning for canines: Just like humans, dogs need to work their way up to longer runs, too! Start off slow, adding an extra few minutes each week to build up your pup’s endurance.
4.Keep it cool: Consider the weather before taking your pooch out for a run. Sunny sidewalks can scorch your pet’s feet and hot, humid days prove an extra challenge since dogs can’t sweat to stay cool. Bring a portable water bowl for your dog and move your run to early morning or after dusk hours on hotter days.
5.Stay safe & in control: Dogs should always wear a collar with identification and stay on a leash when on a run. Additionally, giving your dog a few minutes at the beginning of your workout to sniff and explore for a bit helps him warm up and will help you avoid having to stop at a tree every minute along the way!
Having a canine companion on your workout can turn that dreaded dose of cardio into a fun bonding activity for you and your dog that you’ll be sure to commit to. Learn more about the benefits of exercise for your dog and find out how you can help other pets in need while running for Team ASPCA.
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Are you ready to make a difference for animals in need? Join Team ASPCA! Team ASPCA is a national endurance training and fundraising program dedicated to helping animal lovers walk, run, or cycle in support of the ASPCA’s life-saving programs. Members of Team ASPCA participate in world-renowned marathons, and right now we’re looking for fellow animal-lovers to join us in the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon on October 26!
As a member of the Team, you’ll run or walk the half marathon while raising funds that help fight animal abuse and homelessness—reaching your fitness goals, meeting like-minded people AND making a real difference for animals in need.
All Team ASPCA Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Participants Receive:
Free race entry into the half marathon
Half marathon training from professional coaches
Team ASPCA gear
Travel accommodations (at certain fundraising levels)
Access to Team ASPCA events
A personal online fundraising page to help you reach your goal
And most important: the opportunity to help homeless, abused, and injured animals!
If you’re interested in joining the team, visit the Team ASPCA page to register to attend a FREE Team ASPCA meeting near you.
This month, it’s time to celebrate our feline friends: June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month! Each year, we use this month to spread awareness of millions of homeless cats across the country who are waiting to join loving families. Here at the ASPCA, we’re working every day to provide TLC to cats in shelters—both at our New York City Adoption Center, and through our partner animal welfare groups nationwide.
Looking for something to do this weekend? We’re excited to announce that the ASPCA will be participating in Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1. ALL adoption fees for dogs and cats will be waived during the event, thanks to subsidies provided by Maddie’s Fund. Adoptable dogs and cats will be available at the ASPCA Adoption Center, and we’ll have additional cats and kittens for adoption at the Petco store in New York City’s Union Square!
Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days is designed to increase overall pet adoptions and to create greater public awareness of shelters and rescue groups. If you’ve been considering adopting a furry friend, this is the perfect time to do so! Be on the lookout for these adorable long-stay pets at our Adoption Center who have their paws crossed this will be the weekend they join their new families.
Dutchess:This sweet pup loves every person she meets! Her hobbies are diverse: She’d love to lounge on the couch with you for TV time, just as much as she’d be thrilled to take a jaunt through the park. She already knows Sit and how to give paw!
Gia:Gia is a social and active cat. Once she forms a friendship with you, she’ll reward you with plenty of love and attention. Gia has asthma, but this smart kitty has learned to use an inhaler! She’s looking for an adopter with some previous cat experience who’ll provide her with the TLC she needs.
Jacques:Once you’ve made friends with Jacques, you’ll be his buddy for life. This little guy is very friendly and affectionate with his favorite people. He also enjoys saying a friendly “hello” to other dogs.
China: China is a friendly cat who enjoys quality rest and relaxation. This long-haired beauty is very mellow, and one of her favorite activities is to curl up by the window to take a nap. She also enjoys the company of other cats.
Please visit our adoptable dogs and adoptable cats pages to get to know all of the animals who will be available during this weekend’s event. We hope you’ll consider taking home a four-legged companion of your own!