United Poultry Concerns
24 February 2011
New Bills Will Endanger Farm Animals
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia

UPC president Karen Davis’s letter published today in print newspaper and online. See second letter at:
http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/letters-to-the-editor/2011/feb/24/TDOPIN01-letters-to-the-editor-ar-863259/

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

People who care about animals may be distressed to learn that two bills have quietly passed through the Virginia General Assembly that, if signed into law by Gov. Robert McDonnell, will effectively relieve farm animal owners of all humane care obligations. Senate Bill 1026 and House Bill 1541 seek to reduce requirements to provide adequate food and water to farm animals down to a provision that owners need only provide their animals with sustenance sufficient to prevent emaciation and dehydration.

The proposed law seeks to weaken animal cruelty penalties from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 4 penalty carrying a nominal fine of $250. Even this fine will be set aside to accommodate “customary” farming practices and weather conditions attributed to acts of God, allowing farm owners to let their animals starve or fend for themselves in snowstorms, floods and droughts. Nothing will prevent farm animals from being deprived of food and water severe to the point of excruciating suffering, malnutrition and death, which is exactly what happened to thousands of egg-laying hens in Nelson County in 2009.

If McDonnell signs these bills into law, farm animals in Virginia will be totally at the mercy of their owners’ whims and economic priorities. Standards of protection, already minimal and seldom enforced, will disappear entirely. I hope Virginia residents will not let this happen. There is still time to let McDonnell know that just because an animal is considered agricultural doesn’t mean there is no moral or legal obligation to provide proper food, water and shelter to a fellow creature confined to one’s care.

Sincerely,
Karen Davis, President
United Poultry Concerns
Machipongo, VA

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Dear UPC Readers:

If you are a Virginia resident, please contact Gov. Robert McDonnell immediately and urge him to veto SB 1026 and HB 1541. Call him at (804) 786-2211. Fax: (804) 371-6351. Website Email Contact: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm.

For more information about the proposed law and its terrible impact on Virginia’s farmed animals if enacted, see: http://www.upc-online.org/nr/110216veto_va_farm__bill.html.

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