Target: Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture
Goal: Protect chickens and turkeys from inhumane slaughter
Ninety percent of all animals killed in slaughterhouses in the United States are chickens or turkeys. Yet these creatures are still not covered under the protections of the United States Humane Slaughter Act, which provides basic guards against the tremendous cruelty than can too easily accompany the killing process. These animals deserve–at the very least–to have their lives ended as painlessly as possible.
The Humane Slaughter Act, passed in 1958, lists a number of requirements for the slaughter process intended to minimize the suffering of the animal before it is killed. The central point is that the animal should be unconscious and unable to feel pain when it is actually slaughtered. This usually involves a sedative of some sort, such as a gas or electric current. The Humane Slaughter Act lists cattle, pigs, and sheep as animals covered by the requirements, but not chickens and turkeys, by far the most heavily factory-farmed animals.
A recent investigation by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) revealed the horrific slaughter process at a plant operated by Butterfield Foods Co. in Butterfield, Minnesota. A member of HSUS spent almost two months working undercover at the plant, taking videos that show “spent” hens, hens used for egg production that are no longer producing, at each stage of the slaughter process. All too often, the videos show hens that make it through all the stages–including electrocution, throat-slitting, and boiling–and are still visibly alive.
If these animals are going to be used for food production, we have a responsibility to ensure that they are not forced to endure such unspeakable suffering in the process. Sign the petition below and urge the Secretary of Agriculture to modify the Humane Slaughter Act to protect chickens and turkeys from this terrible fate.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
Every year, more than nine billion chickens are killed for food in the United States. Before actually dying, many of these animals undergo appallingly inefficient and inhumane methods of slaughter. These processes unquestionably leave the animal in a state of tremendous suffering in the last moments of their lives.
Although legislation exists to guard against these horrific practices, the vast majority of animals killed in slaughterhouses are entirely unprotected by it. While the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 outlines killing processes for numerous livestock animals, including cattle, pigs, and sheep, it makes absolutely no mention of chickens and turkeys.
These birds are living beings that feel pain as much as any other animal, and thus deserve the same protections. I am urging you to save these creatures from unnecessary torture and modify the Humane Slaughter Act to include poultry in its list of protected animals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Vmenkov via Wikimedia Commons