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March 25, 2009

Pittsfield City Council First to Ban Cruel Cages for Farm Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

In a 7-3 vote last night, the Pittsfield, Mass., City Council passed a modest but important ordinance to protect farm animals — one that will prevent factory farms from confining animals in cages so small, they can barely move.

The common-sense ordinance simply requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and breeding pigs have enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs. It's nearly identical to California's Prop 2 — the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act — a law that voters enacted in a November landslide, criminalizing confinement of hens in battery cages, pigs in gestation crates and calves in veal crates.

An abundance of scientific research and analysis confirms that such confinement is detrimental to the animals' welfare, and that cage-free housing offers better opportunities for the animals to perform their natural behaviors.

While there are no factory farms in Pittsfield that subject farm animals to such extreme confinement, the ordinance's passage sends a strong message nationwide and shows support for the effort to improve animal welfare at the state level. H.B. 815 is pending in the state legislature with nearly the same language.

Joanne Bourbeau, HSUS senior state director, testified at the Council's hearing in favor of the ordinance. "The Humane Society of the United States congratulates the Pittsfield City Council for passing this modest and common-sense ordinance," Bourbeau said. "It sends a message to the state and the nation that Pittsfield supports basic anti-cruelty protection for all animals, including those raised for food."

Facts

  • The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act was approved by a landslide 63.5 percent of California voters. More than 8.2 million Californians voted to enact Prop 2, making it the state's most popular citizen initiative ever — in the country's top agriculture state, no less. Other states have passed similar reforms, including Colorado, Florida, Arizona and Oregon.
  • In Massachusetts and across the country, restaurants, producers and retailers — including Safeway, Burger King, Carl's Jr. and Hardees, Wolfgang Puck and Smithfield Foods — are moving away from supporting crates and cages on factory farms.
  • Thirteen city councils in Massachusetts and across the United States, including the City of Cambridge, have unanimously passed non-binding resolutions condemning the confinement of laying hens in battery cages and urging city residents not to buy eggs from caged hens.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — on the web at humanesociety.org. 

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