I know that many of us are moved by accounts of sadness. Most
of us were moved by the senseless killings of the 3 youths from
Chardon, Ohio. This happened you might say in my "backyard"
since I live in Gr. Cleveland and Chardon is some few miles east
of us. Most of us recognize this little town when pictured on TV
by the lovely gazebo on their village square.
I am still tearing up seeing the parents of Danny Parmertor on TV
telling how Danny was recently working in a computerized bowling
alley and was to pick up his first pay check this week. He wanted to
start saving for a new car. The father tearfully said that the check
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would be placed in Danny's coffin. Who could not cry realizing
that this young man would never enjoy his first pay check ever or
live to receive many more of them towards his new car? Who could
not feel incredibly sad that the families of all the three young men
would never again hear their voices or see their faces ever again
on this earth?
I don't cry easily but I also cried when I read the account of a massive
slaughter of almost 50,000 chickens. Some might say or think - really?
so what? If this is their response, t hese people would never understand
in a million years why we feel compassion for any animal who suffers
at our hands. These are God's creatures after all who have the same
basic needs like the rest of us. We who care about animals are not
concerned at where on the ladder of life they belong. It is enough for us
that they feel, that they enjoy simple pleasures like fresh air and a
warm sun on their little bodies and the companionship of others like
themselves. They require so little from us and yet even that little is
denied all of them in CAFOs.
At "all-creatures.org" I read how the owner of A & L Poultry just walked
away from the responsibility of caring for his 50,000 hens and just
decided they could starve for all he cared. Perhaps he was overwhelmed.
I can understand that - but to just walk away? No, that is inconceivably
cruel. As word got out that the state was going to destroy them, both
Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary and Animal Place were alerted to the
unfolding crisis on February 22nd.
Anne Martin, Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary board member, was
horrified at the suffering of the chickens at this CAFO who hadn't been
fed for two weeks. Reluctantly, both HHAS and Animal Place were given
permission to save as many as they could in a very short time. T hey
were able to rescue 4,460 hens who made it out alive. The rest were
euthanized by state authorities using CO2 gas chambers. Couldn't help
thinking - an American " Treblinka" response for innocent chickens who
didn't ask to be born in the first place.
Aren't there any compassionate people in government? This is a state
which gave the go ahead for this huge CAFO in the first place. Now,
instead of making an effort to feed the starving chickens a nd find homes
for them on non-cafo farms, it was decided that it was just so much easier
and convenient to kill them in gas chambers.
I am not always proud of how we Americans tackle our problems. Certainly,
this is one such instance. And where was the USDA whose responsibility
is to monitor and inspect these cafos? Were they unaware of the problem?
And yet we have states which want to pass an AgGag law to punish
whistle-blowers. This California CAFO needed such a whistle-blower, and
obviously, there were none.
The USDA claims they are always short-funded and yet told Congress -
give us more money and we are ready to inspect horses in American horse
slaughterhouses. If you are appalled by this as so many of us are and
haven't contacted your legislator yet, please do so now and ask them to
support the Horse Slaughter Ban Bills. Should horse slaughter in the US
sadly become a reality again, you will not have to admit - I did nothing to
stop this horror.
Only 4,460 of some 50,000 hens were rescued by the two caring groups-
HHAS and Animal Place. The latter was able to provide sanctuary for 4,160
of them. Despite this relatively "small" rescue, I was reminded of the
effort of the man who had found thousands of starfish stranded on the
beach one day and began tossing them back one at a time into the ocean.
Someone told him that his efforts were useless. He wisely answered - not
for the ones I returned to the ocean.
And so now 4,460 hens out of 50,000 were saved and for them, they would
finally learn what love and compassion is all about. They would learn
of how they should have been treated from the get go and were not.
Now they would not only be given adequate food and water, but they
would finally be able to feel the warming rays of a bright sun and dig
their feet into the soil. What a long awaited blessing for them, but well
I loved the description of how one little hen learned to eat again. Imagine-
deprived of food for so long she forgot how to eat. One caretaker here tells
the story of the little hen writing to her Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary
"A couple of days ago, we showed you an amazing thing-one of the rescued
hens seeing dirt, grass and the sun for the first time. As things have settled
down ....... I wanted to share with you what most of the hens looked like
when they first arrived. (pictures on all-creatures.org).
She can barely hold her head up, and she has lost 50% of her body weight.
When we showed her food, she did not know what to do. It had been so
long since she had eaten. This was true for many of the hens. Some had
to be force-fed and given fluids to counteract the side effects of dehydration
Victory! After carefully guiding this little hen to a special mash of feed, she
has finally figured out what its for!
It is hard to convey how powerful this moment is. We had watched her sisters
and friends be gassed. We had known there was a possibility many of the
hens who were pulled would not survive. And we knew this hen had not
eaten food in over two weeks and was at risk of losing her life.
Afterwards, we cleaned up her comb and settled her down next to another
rescued hen. The hen next to her is one of the lucky 14 pulled from the
manure pit by one of our staff members and taken to Harvest Home Animal
She is still alive and slowly recovering."
God bless all these wonderful people for recognizing and seeing the face
of God in all of these suffering chickens. I hope one day to find some people
of compassion in government entities as well. And an even bigger hope is
that one day there will be no more CAFOs. For now, we who agonize over
their existence, will have to be satisfied with small steps in lessening the
suffering of animals in them. For the chickens -a small step in this direction is
enlarging their cages where hopefully they can at least spread their wings.
But they still are imprisoned, and that is still objectionable to people of