Unfounded claim of the day: Farm cruelty is rare

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I just read an editorial on the StarPhoenix website, under the headline: “Animal welfare poses economic consequences.”

The focus is on recent news out of Canada concerning cruelty on factory farms and the animal-welfare movement to improve conditions for the animals.

While the piece is somewhat balanced at times, the writer tosses out this unfounded tidbit:

But make no mistake; farmers are true stewards of the land, and displays of such cruel behaviour toward any farm animal is rare.

Just a few paragraphs above this statement, the writer noted Cargill was moving away from gestation crates. Gestation crates are cruel and not at all rare. So on this single aspect of factory farming alone, how can it be that cruelty is rare?


PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Proposed amendment to the recent Farm Bill was set to strip protections for animals

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US Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) is an anti-animal welfare as they come. His latest effort – the so-called King Amendment to the latest Farm Bill – was set to do several things, such overturning the ban on gestation crates for pigs.

An Examiner.com article included the following:

According to the Olympian, it would effectively force states to authorize the sale and consumption of agricultural products, regardless of how unethical, environmentally destructive, or dangerous they may be.

And the article noted the amendment might have nullified “important state laws that prevent animal cruelty” and reported “King has voted in favor of killing American bison in Yellowstone National Park, killing horses for human consumption, and trophy killing of polar bears, despite their endangered status.”

But thankfully, the King Amendment went down in flames.

On Wayne Pacelle’s blog on the HSUS website, he stated the King Amendment “would have repealed dozens of state laws on animal protection.”

And Pacelle had more good news:

… the Senate Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote an amendment, offered by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to bar the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections at horse slaughter plants in the United States. This comes just a week after the House approved an identical amendment by Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Bill Young, R-Fla., to do the same thing.


PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

We have a nominee for the Most Wildly Untrue Statement of the Year

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I run across so many of these, so I’m sure I would loose track over time, but let’s call statements like the following, the nominees for the Most Wildly Untrue Statements of the Year.

The National Post out of Canada reports Rick Bergman, the vice chair of the Canadian Pork Council, believes “using gestation crates are simply the most humane and efficient way to breed a sow.” It’s not a direct quote, but this is what the National Post says Bergman believes.

Why? – Factory farming insiders use excuses such as the weather is bad outside or the sows don’t get along or piglets are at risk without the gestation crates.

Do they realize pigs have been around for a long, long time – surviving without gestation crates? Do they realize wild pigs breed like crazy without any help from gestation crates? Do they realize farms existed before factory farming reared its ugly head?

But more to the point, gestation crates are extremely inhumane. Saying the Earth is at the center of the solar system, with the Sun revolving around us won’t make it true. Saying the Cleveland Browns have won six Super Bowls in a row won’t make it true.


PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Subway joins the list of national eatery chains pushing for animal welfare on factory farms

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A news story popped up this morning on the Pack News Wire, reporting Subway has joined the growing list of national restaurant chains calling for better treatment of animals on factory farms.

Over the next 10 years, the company hopes to completely eliminate the use of pork from sows in gestation crates. And the New Haven Register story reports the company has set a goal of using only free-range eggs. Good move, but I have to add that 10 years is too long. I understand these things move slowly in cases such as this, but pigs will still be suffering for a decade. We advanced our space program in less than decade to put a man on the Moon. Banning gestation crates can happen much, much faster; I don’t care what anybody says.

Subway has added an animal-welfare section to its website and the article suggests the list of companies pushing for more humane housing for sows includes McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Oscar Mayer, Costco, Safeway and Kroger.


Pack Topics: Gestation crate legislation; dog fighting; puppy mill punishment

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NJ could ban gestation crates: A bill in the New Jersey legislature could lead to ban on gestation crates and another bill could crack down on the trade of tigers.

State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak is leading the effort and is quoted by NJ Today as saying – “Animals are God’s creations as much as humans. These bills recognize that cruelty to animals and threats to their extinction need to be eliminated.”

The bill concerning the factory farming of pigs means defines the offending practice as the “cruel confinement as crating, confining or tethering a gestating sow in order to prevent the free range of motion.”

47 dogs saved from alleged dog fighting operation: In the Bronx, NY Thursday, 47 dogs were rescued from an alleged dog fighting ring. It appears training and fights were being held in the basement of an apartment building.

45 dogs rescued from Alabama home: A Madison, Ala. couple is facing 47 counts of animal cruelty after 45 dogs were found living in filthy conditions. Another 40 were found dead, as reported by WHNT.com.
Very light punishment in Canada for puppy mill operators: The people involved in the preceding two stories will most-likely receive weak sentences if convicted for the crimes they are accused of committing. It is an unfortunate result of the very weak and crime-friendly laws on the books – most notably the laws against animal cruelty.
This is the case in Canada as well, as we see in a case this week where the operators of a puppy will only received a two-year ban on operating a commercial breeding facility. But the Ottawa Sun does report that new regulations in Quebec could lead to lifetime bans in future cases.

Pack Topics: Bogus groups, puppy mill regulations and factory farming

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An editorial by Julia Breaux – the state director for Louisiana of The Humane Society of the United States – ran Friday on the Shreveport Times website. In part, the piece notes the bogus nature of the Humane Society for Shelter Pets. The only real mission of the group seems to be to slam the HSUS.

Breaux writes the HSSP “is just the proxy group from attack-man Rick Berman.” She’s right. And she notes – “The HSUS provided direct care to more than 76,000 animals in 2011 alone. Our Animal Rescue Team deploys in response to natural disasters, working with other organizations to rescue, shelter and reunite lost animals with their families, and we assist law enforcement in saving animals from dogfighting and cockfighting rings, puppy mills, animal cruelty and hoarding cases, and other human-caused crises.

AND- The Florida Times-Union ran a story Saturday about a new Jacksonville, Fla. ordinance that gives the city’s “” animal protective agency more enforcement power over illegal pet sales. That includes the ability to levy fines against breeders, pet shops, flea markets and individuals selling animals. “” Great ordinance.

AND – The restaurant chain Cracker Barrel has joined the parade of national eateries that are at least taking some steps in regard to some of the horrendous practices on factory farms around the nation.
News Channel 5 out of Nashville, Tenn. reports the company wants to move away from pork products that originate from farms that use gestation crates and move toward those that are “crate-free.”

Topics: Factory farming (gestation crates) and greyhound racing

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McDonald’s is getting heat from pork producers after announcing that within the next decade the fast-food giant will stop purchasing products from suppliers who use gestation crates.

The Des Moines Register ran a statement from the National Pork Producers Council that included a couple of unbelievable statements –

“Individual sow housing allows us an option to give that best care.” – and – “NPPC notes that the key factor that most affects animal well-being is husbandry skills – that is, the care given to each animal.”

Gestation crates are extremely cruel, so that first statement is flatly false. As far as the second statement goes, if the NPPC really wanted the best care for each animal, it would propose a free-range system for the pigs.

The Florida Times-Union ran an editorial last week promoting the passage of legislation in the state to decouple greyhound racing from the casinos.

The piece includes this important statement: “This bill needs to be passed next legislative session mostly because the state should not be forcing unprofitable businesses to remain open.”

Pack Line Headlines: horse racing, greyhound racing, gestation crates

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Horse race at a greyhound track: One industry that exploits animals will meet another Saturday during the Preakness Stakes. The horse race will take place at the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Florida.

The news out of both horse racing and greyhound racing paints the two industries as all too similar.

Unfortunately, a lot of people will be there Saturday. That does not happen during dog races these days.

Domino’s Pizza the focus of new petition against gestation crates for pigs: I received a press release this morning from Change.org, highlighting a new petition circling the web that is calling for Domino’s Pizza to stop purchasing pork from suppliers that use gestation crates.

In under a week’s time, the petition drive has collected more than 115,000 online signatures, covering 50 states. Long-time Domino’s customer Rina Khadivi started the petition.

Also from the release:

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“Domino’s should stop feeding customers meat from pigs kept in dirty, cramped pig prisons,” said Khadivi, who launched the campaign on Change.org. “If McDonald’s, Burger King, and Denny’s are willing to get rid of gestation crates, why can’t Domino’s?”

“I love to order in a good pizza after a crazy day,” she added. “But the last thing I want to do is eat something I know has contributed to animal cruelty.”

Denny’s is the latest company to commit to phasing out gestation crates from its supply chain. Denny’s Vice President Greg Linford recently said the company “will endeavor to purchase products from companies that provide gestation crate-free pork and are committed to influencing (its) suppliers to share in a gestation crate-free vision for the future.” At present, more than 115,000 people have signed Khadivi’s petition on Change.org asking Domino’s to make a similar commitment.

“What’s especially interesting about Rina’s campaign is that she’s a long-time fan of Domino’s, especially their double-pepperoni pizzas,” said Change.org Senior Campaigner Pulin Modi. “She clearly wants to work with Dominos to meet certain animal welfare standards. Rina’s an example of how consumers everywhere are using Change.org to deliver powerful feedback to the companies that matter to them.”

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Pack Line Headlines 5.11.12: Animal cruelty, factory farming

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Ohio ranks low in punishment for animal cruelty – News Channel 5 out of Columbus investigated the state of Ohio’s animal cruelty laws and found them weak when compared to other states.

An act of animal cruelty is a second-degree misdemeanor in Ohio for a first offense. The news outlet reports animal cruelty is a felony in 44 other states. The state ranked No. 45 in 2010 and No. 36 in 2011 in the Humane Society of the United States’ yearly “Humane State Ranking.”

Sadly, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is against making penalties more severe for animal cruelty.

Wyoming pig farm accused of animal cruelty – The Wyoming Tribune Eagle ran a story today about the release of a HSUS video showing alleged acts of cruelty at Wyoming Premium Farms in Wheatland.

The article includes this – “” The video shows workers drop-kicking live piglets and whipping sick ones around in circles. “”

And thankfully, the article reports some good news – including the fact that eight states have banned the use of gestation crates for pigs. And Safeway, McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have all announced timelines for no longer purchasing produces from facilities that use gestation crates.

Burger King announces move to cage-free eggs and cage-free pork products

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Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning to announce a major shift in the direction of animal welfare for Burger King.

The No. 2 fast-food giant will by 2017 phase out the use of eggs and pork products from severely confined hens and pigs.

Pacelle was also quoted by the Associated Press as saying – “So many tens of thousands of animals will now be in better living conditions. Numerically this is significant because Burger King is such a big purchaser of these products.”

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The AP also noted Burger King uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork each year.

We’ve still got a long road to travel to end suffering, but this news is a positive step in the right direction. The use of gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for chickens is barbaric and if more companies like Burger King would make this call, maybe the factory farming industry will end these practices for good.