Archive from April, 2012

Where do urban chickens go when they’re done laying eggs?

When an urban chicken’s egg-laying days are over, she might become dinner, she might live out her life as a pest-eating pet, or she might even be moved into a  “retirement home” for aging urban chickens.

A far-fetched idea in decades past, the poultry-retirement home’s existence serves as a reminder of the growing popularity of urban farming,* the need for animal owners to plan ahead for the lifetime of their animals, and a portrait of the “livestock-as-pet” phenomena that probably occurs more often than many farmers admit.

Do you keep chickens? And if so, what are your opinions on a “retirement home” service like this?

Stella the friendly urban chicken, one of NAIA’s regular subscribers.

* Portland, Oregon has more than 26 times the number of urban chicken permits today as it did twelve years ago.

Analyst Claims HSUS Gets Nothing From Egg Agreement. Say What?

In an analysis of the United Egg Producers (UEP)/Humane Society of the United State (HSUS) egg agreement, animal rights activist Bradley Miller claims UEP now has the upper hand:

“HSUS and UEP talk about a win-win. But UEP wins whether the federal bill passes or not,” Miller said. “UEP is far ahead of the game compared to where they started.”

Co-opting HSUS to “violate its own principles” and endorse larger cages that UEP has long sought was a shrewd move, in Miller’s view.

UEP has moved HSUS off its prior position opposing cages and if the bill fails, HSUS will look contradictory at best going back to attacking the larger cages it had supported, Miller said.

[...]

HSUS will be left with nothing, Miller said, other than a massive branding or publicity bonanza that put them in the limelight, made them look reasonable and helped HSUS President Wayne Pacelle market his book.

Sorry good sir, but we question your analysis.

Aside from the head-scratcher about HSUS having principles, there are several interesting points in this analysis. Whether or not you agree with UEP working with HSUS or vice-versa, it is undeniable that UEP is, at least for the time being, ahead of where they were a few years ago, when their constant companion was the threat of death by ballot measure.

They also have bought enough time to implement their new enriched cage facilities, which allow for many of the best features of traditional barren cages and cage-free living: clean, effective facilities that raise animal welfare standards and are very hard for activists to stir outrage and raise funds off of.

But will HSUS really be left with nothing in the end? It’s not like their position has changed; they still campaign daily for cage-free (and eventually animal free) agriculture — they’re just putting a stronger focus on other forms of animal production now. And when HSUS is criticized as an “animal rights organization in animal welfare clothing,” their supporters can now use the UEP/HSUS ceasefire as cover, as proof of HSUS’ “moderate” positions.

And what of the work that went into developing the new enriched colony housing? Should it matter that years of toil and millions of dollars went into developing and implementing these facilities while HSUS did nothing but attack them?  HSUS contributed nothing,  but now they get get to raise their credibility in the eyes of the public by playing policy-maker, and take credit for industry changes they actively fought against for years!* Despicable, but you have to admit there is a certain genius to it.

No Bradley, I’m afraid this agreement leaves HSUS with quite a lot. UEP may have found a way to survive, but HSUS found a way to make themselves stronger.


* By the way, HSUS still hasn’t entirely scrubbed its website of pages that disparage enriched cages.

Apr 26, 2012 - Animal Policy    2 Comments

Cats on leashes – WWTD?

Tonight,* the citizens of Concord, Massachusetts vote on whether or not troublemaking cats — cats who relieve themselves, eat birds, etc. while off-property — must be confined indoors or allowed outside only on-leash. It’s pretty mild as far as animal laws go: basically, if a neighbor doesn’t mind an owner’s cat on his or her property, no problem — but if they do create a nuisance and a neighbor complains and no solution is found, the owner would be required to keep them indoors or walk them on a leash outside.

Pretty simple, really. The idea of a cat on a leash raises eyebrows for a lot of people, but a harness or leash on a cat isn’t really that uncommon. And even if the idea seems silly to you, a measure that seeks to address complaints without placing the burden on responsible pet owners most certainly is not.

I'm. Going. To. Kill. You.

Plus, and here’s the best part: supporters and detractors alike are convinced Thoreau would be on their side of the argument…

“I really feel confident that Thoreau would not want the cats on a leash,’’ [Barbara Lynn-Davis] said. “It seems to inhibit their freedom to roam and discover. She’s asking the cats to be curtailed to maintain this artificial environment that she created to give her pleasure, but the birds don’t need that.’’

But Lodynsky, who has owned felines in the past, said that it’s folly to consider a cat part of the natural world.

“They were brought here and domesticated; they aren’t part of the natural food chain,’’ she said. “Boldly, I would say Thoreau would support me because he respected natural species and biodiversity. When people say, ‘Leave nature alone,’ I say nature hasn’t been left alone since we moved here. My stand is that I’m trying to help these birds survive us.’’

Forget, for a moment, the debate over ever-more intrusive animal regulations, the debate over  indoor vs. outdoor cats, and ask yourself: what would Thoreau do?


* The vote was scheduled for Wednesday night, but there was not enough time to vote on the cat measure.

HuMaine Relocation

An interesting piece on humane relocation was posted on the Bangor Daily News website last night. Apparently, Hancock County’s SPCA shelter is importing puppies from Guam to be adopted at $500 a head.

This, in and of itself isn’t that newsworthy; the importation of puppies from out of state into northeastern shelters has been going on for years. In fact, it’s something we’ve documented for more than a decade, and an issue we have actively worked on (and are working on) at the policy level. But the language used here to describe this operation is definitely worthy of note (emphasis NAIA):

The four puppies arrived by commercial airplane late Monday, the first of 12 bound from Guam to Maine this week as part of a program that is literally pushing the boundaries of what is already a thriving “dog rescue” industry in this state.

[...]

Every year, hundreds of dogs are “rescued” from overcrowded shelters in other states and brought to Maine for adoption. More than 50 organizations are licensed by the Maine Department of Agriculture to import dogs, the vast majority of which come from southern states with less aggressive spay/neutering programs and where unadopted pets face euthanasia.

But Guam? After all, the only county in the continental U.S. that juts farther east into the Atlantic than Hancock is its neighbor, Washington County. And some dogs in Maine shelters will ultimately be euthanized because they could not find homes.

Well bless you, Kevin Miller! The scare quotes used when describing this sort of “rescue” and calling it an industry certainly represent a welcome change in tone.

For its part, the shelter seems keenly aware of how the importation may be perceived, and has gone to great lengths to bring up how carefully they are following vaccination and quarantine procedures. They have also attempted to address the issue of enabling* — but the “part of the adoption proceeds go toward spaying and neutering in Guam” falls apart once you contemplate the volume necessary to make any meaningful improvements for animals. It’s great marketing, to be sure, but does it do enough to justify this irresponsible practice? Not unless they begin importing puppies by the score — which, of course, may be their ultimate goal.

 


* Enabling: the argument that importation does nothing to solve the population and policy issues plaguing the dog’s place of origin, that it is simply trades the life of one dog for another while enabling business as usual to continue.