United Poultry Concerns January, 29 2004

United Poultry Concerns Letter Re: NY School Duck Hatching Project

For background: www.upc -online.org/alerts/12405nyhatching.htm

The following letter was sent to Dr. Jonathan Greenfield, who hosts “the Family Pet,” on TV News 12 Long Island. On Saturday, January 22, Dr. Greenfield hosted the Education Director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Suffolk County Farm (Yaphank, NY). The director advocated bird-hatching programs in elementary schools. The deal: classrooms incubate and hatch chicks and ducklings in mechanical incubators to learn about embryology, and the survivors are sent back to the farm to be slaughtered (or something).

January 27, 2005
Dr. Jonathan Greenfield
Syosset Animal Hospital
700 Jericho Turnpike
Syosset, NY 11791
Via Fax: 516-921-0640

Dear Dr. Greenfield:

You and I spoke on the phone earlier this week regarding your guest’s reported advocacy on your show, “The Family Pet,” on January 22, of hatching birds in elementary schools.

We strongly urge schools to avoid bird-hatching projects and to use other ways to teach children about avian embryology and the life of birds. Over the years, we have received many calls from parents and teachers about what to do with hatching-project survivors who are often lame and ill. We’ve received calls from parents and teachers who are deeply disturbed by the botched births, severe deformities, and other suffering unforeseen by many teachers and deeply distressing to their students. We feel that this is an inappropriate experience for young students to have in the classroom.

In contrast, there are many programs available to teach young students about how a bird develops inside an egg without literally repeating a process so easily observed on video and in picture books and other media suited to young children. There are many activities that teach children about life processes without encouraging the view that live animals are merely incidental to biological processes. Children tend to bond naturally and instinctively with baby animals. Classroom projects designed to challenge or break this bond invite skepticism, and worse.

Indeed I do not understand how encouraging the coldly utilitarian view of chickens and ducklings that you expressed to me on the phone on Tuesday fits the theme of “The Family Pet.” Elementary school hatching projects encourage children to want to bring more baby animals into the world, like litters of puppies and kittens. They encourage the view that baby animals are disposable objects, thus contributing to the mentality responsible for millions of unloved, unwanted pets who die miserably each year in this country. My own investigation into school hatching projects has shown that most schools (100% in my experience so far) do not have a budget for veterinary care, even though many animals who are born and/or kept in the classroom urgently need veterinary care and treatment.

I urge you to invite Susan Marino to be a guest on your show to talk about the experience and efforts of Angel’s Gate regarding school hatching projects and unwanted animals. Surely your audience would welcome hearing their hard-earned side of the story.

In closing, I thank you for your time and attention, Dr. Greenfield. I’ve enclosed our Alternatives to School Hatching Projects curriculum guide booklets. I look forward to hearing from you and invite you most cordially to contact me at any time for further assistance.

Karen Davis, PhD


United Poultry Concerns

For more information on school hatching projects: www.upc-online.org/hatching/

United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

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