On April 16, 2017 the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) closed its comment period on a proposed set of guidelines for "depopulation" of farmed animals like chickens, turkeys and pigs.
"Depopulation" means methods by which large numbers of animals must be destroyed quickly and efficiently under extenuating circumstances such as disease control or natural disaster scenarios. By large numbers, we're talking about thousands to millions of birds and animals raised on factory farms.
More often than we'd like, industrialized animal farms find themselves needing to cull great numbers of their animals to stop proliferation of diseases that can spread from the animals to humans. Outbreaks of diseases like avian flu and swine flu often require this kind of response because the disease will spread quickly within the tightly packed populations living at these farms.
The AVMA's proposed guidelines would permit animal farms to kill by using water based foam to suffocate or "drown" chickens; perform ventilation shutdowns, which essentially bake animals alive just as though they were sealed in a hot car; and live burial of sick animals.
These are all horrible options. Many kinder ones exist, but it seems that expediency and cost avoidance are the most important considerations here. That's wrong. It's especially disappointing that these practices are about to be condoned by veterinarians, who are sworn to see to the welfare of sick and injured animals.
The AVMA did not seek public opinion when it decided to propose these cruel methods of "depopulation." Therefore, it's up to us to let them know what we think.
If you'd like to urge the AVMA to reconsider its support for these cruel methods of killing sick farmed animals, please sign this petition. Care2 will ensure your signatures and messages are delivered to Dr. Meyer for his consideration as these proposed guidelines move forward.
Dear Dr. Meyer:
Those who have signed this petition, like many other members of the public, were distressed and horrified to learn that the AVMA wants to issue guidelines that formally authorize the use of water-based foam, ventilation shutdown, and live burial of farmed animals when "depopulation" is needed due to disease or natural disasters.
While we understand the need to move quickly when dealing with a disaster or an outbreak of a zoonotic disease, surely there are kinder methods. Culling sick animals should not be permitted to descend into actual cruelty.
Why can't farms be required to prepare for this type of eventuality so that sick birds and mammals can be euthanized both quickly and humanely? An emergency situation should not be permitted to trigger inhumane methods of killing.
We applaud the fact that the AVMA responsibly exercises its mandate to oversee the rules of care for sick animals. We submit our signatures to this petition to urge you to reconsider your proposed depopulation guidelines. Cruelty is always wrong.
We thank you for giving this matter the attention it deserves.