Thanks to Steve Stajich for his very important article in your December 27 [through January 2] edition.
It is heartening to finally read about a public health crisis and horrific threat to public safety concerning guns spotlighted in your paper. Death and maiming by easily obtained weapons is epidemic in America, and largely ignored by the media.
And so we await the next massacre.
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The hope that no living thing suffers needlessly is a basic want for all people. I will believe that. It’s not often that we get an opportunity to easily ban the most inhumane of practices. Californians have such an opportunity now.
The Human Society, Farm Sanctuary and many, many other animal welfare and health professionals are backing an initiative to get on the November 2008 ballot that will prevent three of the cruelest forms of extreme confinement practiced on large Californian factory farms: Veal crates, battery cages, and gestation crates. Arizona, Florida, and Oregon have already banned gestation crates, and Arizona has also banned veal crates. The European Union has banned all three.
Veal crates are tiny wooden crates in which male calves are trapped for most of their short lives. The crates are just bigger than their bodies and are so restrictive that the calves cannot turn. They cannot even lie down comfortably.
Battery cages are tiny enclosures that confine approximately 19 million egg-laying hens in California. The wire cages are about the size of a sheet of paper. The hens cannot walk, spread their wings; they can barely turn. They are confined like this most of their lives.
Gestation crates are metal cages that confine nearly 20,000 breeding pigs in California for most of their lives. The cage is barely wider than a pig’s body. The pigs are unable to turn. Sores develop on many pigs from leaning or rubbing against the bars. The cages are kept on concrete, crippling many pigs’ feet.
The proposed measure would provide the most basic protection to farm animals; merely allowing them to turn around and extend their limbs. It’s hard to imagine a more moderate initiative. Such forms of confinement are not only inhumane, but archaic and unnecessary, only subjecting the animals to stress, fear, and pain. And we can end this with our vote!
650,000 signatures by California voters are needed to get this initiative on the November ballot, and they are needed by the end of February. This may seem like a daunting deadline, but the smallest effort made by many caring Californians can make this happen. Please check out Californians for Humane Farms at humanecalifornia.org/ to obtain petition information. Petitions can be mailed to you directly even if you just want to collect signatures from your friends and family. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to relieve the most needless of animal suffering.