Target: Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Goal: Expand protections for farm animals during transportation to prevent unnecessary cruelty.
It’s no secret that animals used for food endure great suffering before ending up on our plates. Some of the most intense moments of suffering, however, may occur just hours before the end of these animals’ lives. The well-being of millions of pigs, cows, and birds ends up in the hands of the drivers who move them to slaughterhouses. Sadly, transportation of animals from farm to slaughter is grossly inhumane and severely under-regulated.
A Canadian woman made headlines when she was threatened with a possible 10-year prison sentence for “criminal mischief.” Her crime? Giving water to thirsty pigs who had endured up to 36 hours of continuous travel in packed, overheated metal carriers. Animal activists slammed Canada for allowing such abuse to occur legally, but many are unaware that similar levels of abuse occur daily in the United States. In the U.S., the “28 Hour Law” allows animals to be transported for 28 consecutive hours without rest, food, or water. However, animals are allowed to be transported up to 36 hours with written consent of their owner, and poultry are exempt from the rule entirely.
These exceptions paint a grim picture for livestock in the U.S. Without official protection, the 9 billion chickens slaughtered for food every year face horrific levels of suffering during transport. Other livestock still may suffer serious dehydration ad exhaustion during the 28 or 36-hour periods. No nation that claims to care about the welfare of animals should keep these laws on the books. Urge the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to refine animal transport laws so that livestock are protected from unnecessary cruelty during transport.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
Criticism of Canada’s animal welfare policies ensued when a woman was threatened with a 10-year prison sentence for giving water to suffering pigs outside a slaughterhouse. However, many people are unaware that similar policies on the transportation of farm animals are practiced here in the United States as well. The “28 hour law” may seem less harsh than Canada’s 36-hour policy but the result is often the same for suffering animals.
With written consent from owners, drivers are allowed to keep animals confined, without stopping for rest, food, or water, for up to 36 hours. Additionally, poultry are exempt from this animal welfare policy entirely. This means that 90 percent of the animals slaughtered for food in this country endure tortuous conditions during transport. It is unacceptable to allow this level of cruelty to play out every single day. We have many policies to protect pets and wildlife from abuse, yet our protections for millions of farm animals fall tremendously short. Please work to expand animal welfare laws to ensure all animals receive adequate water, food, and rest during transportation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Dodo Bird