In February of 2012, Animal Place et al were able to rescue 4,460
battery hens who would have been gassed with the rest of the
other 45,540 poor chickens who were left to die by a Cafo owner.
This has been written about before, but now Animal Place wanted
to share with us what happened on that fateful day when they
tried to rescue as many of the doomed hens as possible.
You might be asking - why bother? The number is comparatively
small in regards to the greater number who were gassed. Well,
it's the same idea of that wonderful person who found thousands
of starfish stranded on the beach and began tossing them back
into the ocean - one at a time. Someone coming upon the scene
asked the person why bother since he wouldn't be able to save them
all. But the man wisely responded that for those he could, it was a
indeed a blessing for each one of them. I'm sure it was also a blessing for him as well.
I can't think of any greater act of love than to help someone escape
imminent death- be it human or animal. Some people may think
we are foolish for caring about an animal's life. Let them think
what they want. We see them as fellow living creatures made
by God who deserve to be treated kindly and humanely.
I, for one, do not subscribe to the Utility Principle of St. Thomas
Aquinas. Anybody who does, might be interested in reading
Jesse Ramieriz' internet post entitled "Rethinking Aquinas." How
sad that the church isn't taking a better look at what some of us
consider faulty mideval thinking.
On the introductory page of Animal People's booklet titled - "It
takes a Community" is a picture of Kim Sturla,the Executive
Director of Animal Place - a beautiful place of farm animal rescue.
She is sitting on the ground surrounded by 5 or more rescued hens.
What a beautiful pastoral scene. Finally, these poor chickens are
able to walk on ground, breathe in fresh air, feel the rays of the sun,
and enjoy the company of each other and even humans. No battery
hens ever get to enjoy these simple amenities because of the
invention of a CAFO.
I once tried to find information on the internet re who first started
this horrible concept of pure animal exploitation. I only learned
that it was probably started in Europe. Perhaps its better that I
cannot put a face to the cruel person whose invention it was. I
only know that I hope that he may one day rue the day he thought
of it because it has become an instrument of torture for billions of
animals through out the world.
Kim Sturla's introduction to the thoughts which ran through her
mind that day in February deserve quoting:
"For two days we were parked along the road, keeping watch
on two Turlock, California poultry sheds filled with 50,000 dead
and dying birds. They had not been fed in more than two weeks.
Gas chambers with carbon dioxide canisters were wheeled in and
out of the buildings. Garbage trucks lined up as tractors dumped
bucket-loads of dead hens into garbage bins."
I could not help thinking - what a sad response by the regional
director of animal services and city government. Wouldn't
compassionate people at least try to feed and rescue these hens?
Couldn't they try to contact animal rescue groups to see if they
could help? Well the a nswer evidently is a resounding no, because
they wouldn't even allow the people of Animal Place into the facilities
to help save the still living birds!
Kim began calling her media contacts - letting them know what was
happening. Facebook supporters were asked to call the shelter.
Hundreds of people began phoning the shelter demanding custody
of the still living hens be granted Animal Place. Finally, the director
of animal control let Kim know that they can begin saving some
of the hens.
Rescuers then entered the place from hell beginning the ardurous
task of bringing out any live hens they could find. They noted
how the first hens they pull out were so fragile. When "healthy,"
they would be weighing 3 pounds. These weighed less than a
Jacie, a rescuer, thought one of the hens seemed near death so she
mixed her a mash of special feed, but the hen wouldn't eat it. She had forgotten how to eat after 2 weeks without any food. Finally, Jacie
guided her head into the mash and then the little hen began to eat-
much to her rescuers delight.
They found two dozen live hens stuck in the manure pit below the
battery cages where the hens had been kept. Fifteen were pulled
out before the officials denied Greg further access. He noted that
there were no words for how it felt to leave the rest behind.
There were other testimonials by these very caring volunteers
and Animal Place personnel re their efforts and their feelings -
removing all the live hens they could in two days. They were
tired and exhausted, but they were also happy that they were
instrumental in saving as many of the hens they could.
Of course, much work lay ahead of them in the days that followed.
Caring for and feeding 4,460 hens would require much effort,
work, and money donations which thankfully came in. The staff
and volunteers proved fit to fulfill the needs of their new wards.
However, not all of the hens would make it, but for those who did -
a new, different, wonderful world awaited them.
They would never again be squeezed into a battery cage - unable
to spread their wings- much less move around on their paper- size
alloted space. All who took part in this rescue will never forget the
joy and exhileration of saving these traumatized hens. God made
them all -His creatures both great and small.
Now some good news re some hoped for improvement in battery
hen lives. If the Senate approves S.3239 - the companion bill to the
House's bill - HR 3798- The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments
of 2012, it would double the amount of space alloted per bird, would
ban inhumane practices, ( hopefully, debeaking and molting) and
would require on-carton labeling so that consumers know how hens
Many of us view this as a first small step, but when it comes to hen
suffering, even small steps count. If you agree, then please write or
call your two Senators and ask them to support S.3239. This is crucial
if we want this bill to pass.
I think many compassionate people want to see the Cafos gone -
period. Will it ever happen? Who knows, but one thing is certain -
each day I ask God for this wonderful grace and that the Cafos will
be dismantled one day. If you care, please make that your daily
prayer as well.