Monday, November 3, 2008

People and animals hope for change this Nov. 4

Wilbur, a rescued pig, enjoys a life that factory farm animals can only dream about.

As the swell of election fever seizes the land, there’s a quieter groundswell of hope taking place in the world of animal rescue. Proposition 2 will be presented to California’s voters tomorrow, and if it passes, it will mandate better treatment for more than 20 million animals.

Proposition 2 focuses on the despicably tiny living quarters found in factory farms, which confine an animal to a space so small that they can’t stand up, lie down, turn around, or fully extend their limbs. The law bans the use of veal crates, battery cages, and gestation crates, which house calves, egg-laying hens and breeding pigs. The cost of this small kindness is miniscule – estimates say one penny per egg will pay for the use of bigger cages that allow the hens to engage in some of their natural behaviors, such as taking a dust bath or walking a couple of steps.

Florida, Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon have already banned gestation crates, and Arizona and Colorado have banned veal crates as well. Proposition 2 is endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, the California Veterinary Medical Association, the Center for Food Safety, and the Consumer Federation of America, along with dozens of newspapers, from The New York Times to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Besides the inhumanity of not allowing animals to spread their wings, stretch their bodies full length, or stand up and turn around, these noxious, inhumane factory farming facilities are dangerous to human health. The density of animals crammed into small spaces causes contamination of our waterways, lakes, groundwater, soil and air. Fewer animals crowded onto a farm means less manure and toxic pollution. According to the Humane Society of United States, battery-cage operations are 20 times more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella than cage-free facilities.

When the winds of change blow across America tomorrow, people will cast a vote in the hopes that their conditions will improve. I hope that in California, change will also come for the animals.

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