chickens are not machines

Millions of egg-laying hens all across Canada are confined in barren, wire battery cages so restrictive that the birds can't even spread their wings. These birds suffer through their entire lives, so that people can wring more profit out of them. You can read more about the cruelty of battery cages here.

Animal advocates have persuaded local councils in many towns and cities to improve the lives of these animals. Your municipal council can do the same.

Humane Society International Canada is asking us to contact our city councils and encourage them to pass cage-free resolutions. The first Canadian municipality to do this was Richmond, BC. To date, 14 other city councils have followed, including the Ontario cities of Orillia and Pickering.

I know from my own reading that the "free range" or "cage free" designation does not necessarily mean the chickens lived healthy, outdoor lives. By adhering to the letter of a regulation but not the spirit, farm owners can still cram "free range" chickens into tiny, over-crowded, inhumane conditions. However, getting rid of battery cages is an important first step.

I wrote this letter to the City Manager of Mississauga. I hope you will send a similar letter to your own city council.

Here's what you do:

1. Google the name of your city plus "city council", and look for contact info.

2. Copy the letter below into an email, changing the names where appropriate. I encourage you to swap a few of my sentences with a few of your own, so the letter is more personalized.

3. Send it!

4. Go to HSI Canada and tell them you sent a letter by clicking here, or simply forward your sent letter to info@hsicanada.ca.

Thank you! My letter:

Subject: please pass resolution regarding egg-laying hens

Dear Ms. Baker and Mississauga City Council Members:

I am a resident of Mississauga, and I am writing to you to alert you that there is something simple and reasonable you can do to help stop cruelty to animals - cruelty that we all contribute to.

I urge you to take action on behalf of millions of egg-laying hens who, confined to tiny, crowded battery cages all their lives, do not even have enough space to turn around or spread their wings.

I know that some people read this and ask, "Chickens? Why should I care about chickens?" I am not a vegetarian. I eat chicken and I eat eggs, and I don't suggest anyone should do otherwise. But the animals that we eat are not machines. They are living creatures. They feel pain. In their short lives before they become our food, they deserve to not be tortured.

I respectfully request that Mississauga City Council pass a simple, cost-neutral resolution to improve the lives of egg-laying hens in Canada, similar to the one passed in May 2007 by the City of Richmond, BC, as well as 14 other Canadian cities since that time. The resolution could read as follows:

That the council of the Mississauga resolves:

(1) to encourage Mississauga residents:

(i) as restaurants and caterers in both private and City operations, to highlight the support for and availability of certified organic, free-range eggs on their menus;

(ii) as consumers, to request the option of purchasing certified organic, free-range eggs at retail food outlets and restaurants and, where available, choose the certified organic, free-range option;

(iii) as wholesalers, to highlight the preference for and availability of certified organic, free-range eggs in their food supply inventories; and

(iv) as retailers, to highlight the preference for and availability of certified organic, free-range eggs in their food stores;

(2) That the operators and caterers of City-run facilities be requested to use only certified organic, free-range or free-run whole (shell) eggs; and

(3) That a letter be written to the Provincial Government, Federal Government and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency stating that the Mississauga City Council opposes battery cage egg production based on the inherent cruelty of confining egg-laying hens in battery cages.

(4) That a letter be written to the Ontario Municipalities Association requesting all members adopt a similar initiative.

Thank you very much for hearing my concerns.


Laura Kaminker


impudent strumpet said...

Um, are there even chickens in Mississauga?

L-girl said...

Um, are there even chickens in Mississauga?

There is still some farmland here, believe it or not.

But if you read the letter, it's not really about farms. The goal is to encourage consumers and restaurants to buy and promote eggs from cage-free chicken facilities, for stores to offer them and promote them, for city facilities to pledge to use them. Create and increase the market for the end product, so farms are encouraged to go cage-free.

Also, if enough municipalities sign on, they can create some momentum for the fight on the provincial level.

L-girl said...

The Humane Society of the US used this strategy in counties in California, and now the whole state adopted Proposition 2 for more humane standards for farm animals. It's a significant start.

impudent strumpet said...

Sorry, i was posting pre-coffee and didn't realize I was glazing over that much

L-girl said...

You're a lot better than I am pre-coffee. You at least recognized the words chicken and Mississauga.