“If passed, Prop 12 would be the strongest law for farm animals in the world.” – Kristie Middleton
“No way,” people say when they learn that Luna can pick the queen of spades from a deck of cards. She was trained by her rescuer, Isabelle Cnudde. Isabelle used positive reinforcement to train her by issuing a treat synchronized with a clicker to encourage her. You may be surprised to learn that Luna is not a dog, but rather a hen.
Rescued from a factory farm when she was no longer producing a sufficient number of eggs for her to be considered “economically viable,” Luna is one of the lucky hens who was taken in by Isabelle. For the vast majority of egg-laying hens though, life is dramatically different.
Most of the eggs produced in the United States come from hens who are confined in wire cages that are roughly the size of a desk drawer. These cages are stacked on top of each other, row upon row, tier upon tier in sheds the size of warehouses. Each bird has about as much space as an iPad on which to live her life. She can’t perch, dustbathe, or lay her eggs in a private nesting box – things that are important to chickens. In fact, she can barely move more than a few inches. At around eighteen months when her egg laying slows down, she’s sent off to slaughter.
A citizen ballot initiative in California—Prop 12—would ban the cage confinement of egg-laying hens, baby veal calves, and mother pigs and it would also make it illegal to sell products in the state that come from producers that don’t meet those standards.
More than 660,000 Californians signed petitions in support of getting the initiative on the ballot. Now, we’ll be able to vote on the measure the 2nd week in October when early voting starts in California, and of course, on Election Day on November 6th. If passed, the initiative would be the strongest law for farm animals in the world.
Why is supporting Prop 12 so important? As Isabelle discovered, chickens are highly intelligent, sensitive beings. Not only can they learn to identify a certain card from a deck, but that they can recognize the faces of 100 other chickens, they have more than twenty vocalizations, and they can even learn simple math.
Mother pigs are confined in gestation crates—metal cages that prevent them from even turning around for the duration of their pregnancy. They’re put into another crate to give birth and back in the gestation crate over and over for roughly four years. The animals often chew the bars of their crates until their mouths bleed, frustrated and bored by their confinement.
And baby veal calves are confined in tiny crates, chained by their necks unable to even turn around until they’re ultimately sent off to slaughter.
When asked, the overwhelming majority of consumers oppose this sort of cruelty to animals. They want all animals—including those in the food supply—to be protected from abuse.
Now, California has a chance to be a leader by taking a firm stance and opposing some of the worst forms of animal cruelty. Let’s stand up for animals by stepping into the ballot box and voting Yes on Prop 12. Isabelle—and Luna—will be grateful if you do.
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