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July 30, 2008 > Ohlone Humane Society: Stepping up to the plate for animals

Ohlone Humane Society: Stepping up to the plate for animals

By Nancy Lyon

If you're reading this column, chances are you care about and are interested in the welfare of animals. And that's a wonderful thing. You love your dog, cat, bird or other critter, and you consider yourself an animal lover. But what about the other animals who equally feel, have affection for their young, and love their freedom as much as your companion animal - or you and I?

I'm talking about the farmed animals that we seldom, if ever, personally encounter. Our generally urban lives offer little opportunity to interact with those "other" animals that we usually only meet when they are tidily packaged in plastic and given names that really don't bring to mind that they were once living creatures. Creatures whose lives, before they ended up in that anonymous package, we know little about. Lives of animals that were "whos," not "whats" before they showed up on our dinner tables.

The lives of calves, chickens, pigs and other animals created to feed America's heavy dependency on meat more often than not live lives in congested "factory farms" subjected to incredibly inhumane conditions, something that we consumers are totally unaware of ... but there is hope for the future. There is a movement in California to place Proposition 2, the Californians for Humane Farms Act on the State November ballot.

This proposition is supported by California veterinarians and veterinary students, elected officials and local governments, family farmers and farming organizations, media representatives, animal protection organizations, celebrities, many religious organizations and leaders, and organizations like the Sierra Club and the Caesar Chavez Foundation.

A study by the University of California Davis found that "little, if any cost increase and no substantial impact on prices to California consumers" will occur when voters approve Proposition 2. The measure would prevent the cruel and inhumane confinement of calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens who now are subjected to being kept in crates and cages so small they cannot lie down, turn around or extend their limbs." ... unthinkable misery.

The plight of farmed animals is little known to the general public. Veal calves lead short lives completely confined in small dark enclosures, tethered by the neck so they can barely move. Female pigs, animals that are extremely intelligent and sensitive, spend their entire miserable existence in severe confinement and bite the metal bars of their crates in despair. Hens spend their egg-producing lives in tiny, filthy battery cages, crammed in with many other hens where they can't even spread their wings.

The impact of intensive farming not only harms innocent animals. Fertilizers and huge amounts of excrement run-off cause environmental degradation of the ground water supply in surrounding communities. Cramming farmed animals into tiny cages fosters the spread of animal diseases that can affect people. This year, authorities had to pull meat off of school cafeteria menus and initiate a nationwide recall of meat due to contamination by feces.

Proposition 2 would provide ample time - until 2015 - for factory farmers using severe confinement methods to shift to more humane practices. Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Oregon have already passed similar laws that are working successfully.

I believe that Californians are a compassionate people who, once they are informed about the conditions for farmed animals - conditions that are worse than even the most terrible puppy mills - will actively lend their support to Prop 2.

We would not force our companion animals to live in filthy, cramped cages for their whole lives and endure such misery. All animals, including those raised for food, deserve humane treatment.

Ohlone Humane Society has signed on to endorse Proposition 2 and we urge you to inform your friends that farmed animals need their help and ask them to join you in supporting the initiative to get Prop 2 on the November ballot, and then go out there and vote for its passage.

Get on the bandwagon! For ways that you can help, and answers to opposition arguments against its passage, we direct you to the "Yes on 2" Web sites: and Tel: (323) 896-1126

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