Tag Archives: Humane Society

Slaughterhouse Hotline

TelephoneA new hotline (1-888-209-7177) was just launched by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) so that workers can more safely document the abuse of animals.

As the old saying goes, “if slaughterhouses had glass walls we’d all be vegetarians.” The slaughterhouse operators know this better than anyone, which is why they have pushed “ag-gag” laws through in a handful of key states.  These ag-gag laws prevent the documenting of abuse by criminalizing undercover investigations of agricultural facilities. We have previously reported on the plight of both farm animals and workers in the nation’s slaughterhouses. While horrible conditions persist, the public is kept in the dark.

The bleak conditions endured by animals on factory farms are often made worse by overt violence and neglect,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the HSUS. “Pigs are often beaten. Chickens are stomped on. Lame cows are left for dead. We want whistleblowers to know that help is just a phone call away.

To tackle this problem, the HSUS established a hotline for reporting cruelty and neglect on factory farms, at livestock auctions, and in slaughterhouses. This will empower employees at those facilities who have witnessed cruelty or other unlawful acts.

The HSUS offers whistleblowers a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who have committed acts of cruelty to farm animals. Hotline callers will be assured anonymity if they desire it. The HSUS will work with the United Farm Workers to distribute information about the hotline to workers at factory farms, slaughterhouses and livestock auctions.

We applaud the HSUS for their new program and all those who have the courage to call it. Of course, the best way to end the harsh conditions and frank abuse in animal agriculture is simply to go vegetarian- a move the HSUS enthusiastically endorses.

Turning point for animals

Pigs confinedThe next few days will be a time of worry but also a time of hope for the many vegetarians and others who care about the welfare of farm animals.
We reported a few days ago on the removal from the Farm Bill of a provision, approved by both the producers and the animal welfare groups, that would have provided some minimum standards for egg laying chickens [posting]. Now an even greater threat looms from the so called King Amendment which just passed the House.
The amendment is from Rep. Steve King, and it could wipe out animal protection laws nationwide. Arizona’s law banning gestation crates, Michigan’s law banning veal crates, California’s law banning battery cages—they’re are all in jeopardy. And it doesn’t stop there: every state factory farm confinement law, foie gras bans, horse slaughter laws, shark finning bans and puppy mill regulations—along with environmental protection, worker safety, and other important laws—are all at risk. If the King amendment passes the Senate, these could all could be nullified. 
But there is also hope. The Denham-Schrader amendment, which would strip the King amendment from the Farm Bill is also up for a vote. The Denham-Schrader amendment would restore minimum standards for egg laying chickens and also nix the dangerous, overreaching King Amendment, which seeks to repeal state laws regarding agriculture production. For more information visit the Humane Society.

HSUS Challenges False Pork Advertising – and wins

PigsPigs are some of the smartest animals on Earth. Highly social, intelligent, and curious, they engage in complex tasks, form elaborate, cooperative social groups and feel fear, pain, and stress. Studies show that they are more intelligent than dogs, and scientists have demonstrated that pigs are capable of playing simple video games, learning from each other, and even learning names.

Most breeding pigs in the U.S. are confined in “gestation crates” for virtually their entire lives. For several years, they’re confined to crates that nearly immobilize them, enduring a cycle of repeated impregnation. These individual cages are approximately 2 feet wide — so small the animals can’t even turn around or take more than a step forward or backward. Due to the duration and severity of their confinement, these pigs’ suffering is among the worst of all factory-farmed animals.

Following The Humane Society of the United States’ legal complaints to the Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission over false and misleading animal welfare statements made by Seaboard Foods, the nation’s third-largest pork producer, Seaboard has been forced to alter its online advertising around the hot-button topic of animal welfare throughout its operations.

Unfortunately, the company continues to use inhumane animal care practices at its farms, such as the extreme confinement of breeding pigs in small gestation crates.

“While we are pleased that Seaboard has been forced to abandon its misleading online advertising, it would be better if the company had changed its actual practices,” says Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation and investigations for The HSUS. “Seaboard is still confining animals in small cages where they can’t even turn around, contrary to good science, common sense and consumers’ desire for better treatment of animals.”

The complaints followed a 2011 HSUS undercover investigation that documented inhumane treatment of animals at a Seaboard facility. The investigation revealed pigs confined in tight gestation crates barely larger than their own bodies, preventing them from even turning around, and workers hitting animals, duct-taping their legs to their bodies and jabbing their eyes.

Seaboard’s lofty claims about animal care were in stark contrast to the findings in the investigation. Seaboard had claimed that the company uses “the most humane practices throughout the animal’s life…” In response to an FTC investigation triggered by the HSUS’ complaint, the company removed this false and misleading statement about its commitment to animal care.

Interview with Dan Paul – WA State Director for the Humane Society of the US

Tell us something about yourself. How did you first become interested in animals in general and farm animals in particular?  

My fascination with animals seems to have been hardwired from birth, but it took many years and many nuggets of exposure for me to finally get that ‘aha’ moment.

I grew up in the suburbs of Southern California, but spent a few weeks each summer during my early teenage years at a camp which centered around a working farm. The cows spent their days wandering around in one of the many pastures; the chickens were free to roam and munch on bugs in the manure and dirt, the pigs dined on the plants and the camp’s food waste; vegetable were grown on the farm and picked by the campers – this system was balanced and thus, it workedRead more

Animals – Those Who Care Are Not Alone

If you care about the animals and value their lives, you’re not alone. Caring about animals has never been more popular in America. For instance, a study published in the Congressional Quarterly found that two thirds of Americans believe that an animal has a right to live free of suffering. In addition, a third of Americans are worried that existing laws are inadequate to protect animals.  That same concern has also been contributing to the rise of mainstream friendly animal welfare organizations. For instance the Humane Society of the United States now boasts over 11 million members.

Recently, the growing concern has also become translated into legislation. A measure that, by 2015, bans farmers from raising egg-laying hens, veal calves, and pregnant pigs in overcrowded cages and crates so small that the poor animal can not even turn around, has passed in California by a substantial majority. Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon have passed similar laws for pigs and veal calves. Fearing a massive victory in an Ohio voter initiative, the state’s farmers have voluntarily agreed to humane reforms.

And just in the past few months, an historic national agreement was reached between HSUS and the chicken industry. Chickens across the country will finally get some federal protection under new legislation, which proposes phasing in cages that give hens up to 144 square inches of space each, compared with the 67 square inches that most hens have today. It would also mandate more humane slaughter methods, along with other improvements. Backed by both the Humane Society and the chicken industry, which was noticing the public pressure for change, this legislation is likely to pass.

So let’s take a look beyond the headlines and see what’s going on. There is a growing confluence of three currents in our society: the increasing public appreciation of and concern for animals, new scientific information confirming the reality of animal suffering along with the healthfulness of vegetarian diets, and religious and moral leaders who advocate extending moral questions to the humane treatment of animals.

Farm animals today are forced to live a much harder life than in former times.  Most of today’s farm animals are raised on so-called factory farms.  Modern factory farms revolve only around efficient, low-cost production, which unfortunately results in harsh conditions and greatly increased suffering for billions of farm animals. Chickens and pigs are packed into overcrowded cages so small that they can’t even turn around. Cows raised for veal are chained up their entire lives.  More and more Americans are learning about these inhumane conditions. Exposes and videos showing outrageous abuses in slaughterhouses cause even the most reserved to cringe. Indeed it has often been said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarians. 

Science is making its contribution too. Not only have scientists confirmed that mammals such as cows and sheep can feel pain, but now even fish have been found to have pain receptors in their brain. The Merck Veterinary Manual, the standard reference in animal science and veterinary practice, states, “Based on what is known to date, all vertebrates, and some invertebrates, experience pain in response to actual or potential tissue damage.”

In a way, researchers have known this for some time. They have been in the untenable position of testing pain medications on animals while trying to deny that they can feel pain. Over time, many Americans have become suspicious of this kind of double talk when it comes to animal suffering. Author Mathew Scully puts the matter clearly when he says “And how much simpler to drop the pretensions, call cruel things by their name.” The American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists now bluntly states that animal pain and suffering are clinically important conditions that adversely affect an animal’s quality of life both in the short and long term.  

Scientists and medical researchers have also confirmed the many health advantages of a vegetarian diet. Marion Nestle, Chair of Nutrition at New York University, sums it up well when she says “There’s no question that vegetarian diets are as healthy as you can get. The evidence is so strong and overwhelming, and produced over such a long period of time, that it’s no longer debatable.”

Many religious and moral leaders have long advocated for the compassionate treatment of animals or the vegetarian diet that goes along with it. The list is, perhaps, more extensive than many realize. A short list would include John Wesley (founder of the Methodist Church), Saint Francis, and two Chief Rabbis of Israel. Founding fathers such as William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania) and Thomas Paine (who started the American Revolution) spoke out boldly against cruelty to animals. In more recent times spiritual leaders such Pope John Paul II, Cardinal John Henry Newman, William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army), C.S. Lewis, Albert Einstein, Professor of Theology the Reverend Andrew Linzey, Thomas Merton (a Trappist Monk), Ghandi, Martin Luther King’s wife and oldest son, the Dalai Lama and many more have spoken out to increasingly receptive audiences.

The American public reacts against animal suffering, but they have to know about it first. The problem is that they don’t often know about it, or the information is presented to them in a way they find objectionable. Americans have big hearts. More and more will sincerely care, when they find out what happens in today’s factory farms.

Those who care are not alone. Every year, more and more people choose a vegetarian diet as a way of expressing their compassion for animals, improving their health or reducing their environmental footprint. If you’re not yet a vegetarian but would like to be, we’re here to help. Try coming to one of our monthly dinners, reading our books, The Vegetarian Solution and Say No to Meat, attending one of our free cooking and nutrition classes and enjoying our two day festival, Vegfest. By making vegetarian food choices, you will be saving farm animals with every bite and maybe, just maybe, the day will come when all the animals will be saved.