Sunday, March 11, 2018

Keeping chickens, cloning pets & shelter animals (still) in need

Raising chickens has become an “in” thing around the country.  Described as “a growing status symbol in Silicon Valley,” in a recent Washington Post story, “egg-laying chickens are now a trendy, eco-conscious humblebrag on par with driving a Tesla.” 
It’s also happening in New Jersey. After a two-year pilot program “to see if chickens and their neighbors could live in harmony,” the city council of Woodbury (Gloucester County) unanimously passed a law allowing “chickens to come home to roost” there. A $10 license fee allows residents to raise up to 12 egg-laying hens; no roosters allowed.

As one recently subjected to boring chicken tales and pictures from a distant relative, I’m neutral, at best, on this issue.  Especially since I assume most of those chicken-keepers are also chicken-eaters – though maybe not their own pricey fowl.

Chicken consumption is a whole other not-pretty story that we’ll get to later.  For now, suffice it to say that while the practice of equating chickens with cowards goes back centuries, with flimsy supporting reasons, today’s chickens – mass-produced in factory farms -- have never had a better reason to be cowards!  Who would want their lives, or deaths? 
Cloning pets: all wrong

Love your dog so much you can’t imagine your future without her?  Well, if you’re thoughtless and rich enough, you can have your dog cloned – once an idle wish among pet-lovers – as Barbra Streisand recently did.

Don’t think it was easy, or even a little bit fair to every non-human and human animal involved. Cloning takes a terrible toll, as the story below details.  Worst of all to me: it leaves homeless animals in shelters right where they are, while needlessly growing the pet population – and some of those creatures may also wind up homeless some day. 

Overall, a selfish and cruel “lose-lose.”

Animal shelter bill -- MIA

The “animal shelter bill” I’ve written about for more than three years, exclaiming over the good it would do for homeless animals “living” in New Jersey animal shelters: What happened to it?  Where is it in the legislative pipeline? When will it surface and be talked about and moved forward?

Work on this bill began years ago with a meeting of people who know and care about animal shelters and want to see them improved. They exchanged opinions and specifics for a couple hours on January 23, 2015.

Then came a long hiatus, when nothing seemed to happen – no meetings, no word, no action for shelter animals. 

Finally, a draft bill appeared, with feedback invited.  Then came another long hiatus, with no communication about bill status or how to support and move it.  Meanwhile, shelter animals languished and many died – unnecessarily, for sure, since so many animal shelters in New Jersey do their own ignorant, inconsistent and cruel things, pretty much with impunity.  

In fact, it was the horrors at the Helmetta shelter (shelter: such a misnomer!) that helped trigger that first and only meeting, filled with talk of a law to reform NJ shelters.  And yet today, some animals still endure filthy and unsafe shelter conditions, minimally trained staff with even less supervision, and seat-of-the-pants decisions and actions that can be lethal.  
What happened to the shelter-reform bill, initially numbered S3019 and now S725?  Where is it in the legislative pipeline?  When will it re-surface and be talked about and moved forward for action? 


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