By Heather Moore
Ever since January 7, when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
launched a worldwide campaign to end the extreme cruelty to chickens killed
for KFC restaurants, we've been inundated with questions: "Why bother?
They're just chickens," and "What difference will it make? They're going to
These are undoubtedly the kinds of questions that people in Asia-where dogs
and cats are raised for human consumption-ask when others demand that they,
at the very least, give the animals a more humane life and a less painful
death. Although most of us simply don't know chickens as well as we know dogs
and cats, these birds do show affection and feel happiness, loneliness, fear
and pain, just like the pup curled up on the end of your bed. They are
social, intelligent and, according to Chris Evans, who studies animal
behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, have
cognitive abilities "beyond the capacity of small children."
In their natural surroundings, chickens are busy animals who spend their day
foraging for food, making nests, roosting in trees and taking sun and dust
baths. Friends of mine who keep them as companion animals tell me they are
curious about household activity and enjoy sitting in the living room with
the family each evening, listening to music.
But the 736 million chickens killed for KFC are crammed by the tens of
thousands into sheds that stink of ammonia fumes from accumulated waste. They
are given barely even room to move–each bird lives in the amount of space
equivalent to a standard sheet of paper. They routinely suffer broken bones
from being bred to be top heavy, from callous handling when workers roughly
grab birds by their legs and stuff them into crates and from being shackled
upside down at slaughterhouses.
By the time they're old enough for slaughter, their bodies are so fragile
that their bones snap when they are grabbed and stuffed in crates for
transport. During slaughter, their throats are cut and they are often dumped
in a tank of scalding water while still fully conscious.
However one feels about eating meat, decent people will agree that, at a
minimum, animals should not be grossly mistreated. PETA is asking KFC to
replace its current chicken-killing methods with humane death by gas; to use
mechanized chicken catching, which causes less bruising and fewer broken
bones; and to include sheltered areas and perches in chicken houses to
improve the birds' living space.
For nearly two years, KFC executives have been assuring PETA that the welfare
of the chickens is of great concern. But so far they have done nothing. Of
course, the best way to help animals at KFC is to go vegetarian, but if
consumers can persuade KFC to take these simple steps it would mean a world
of difference to the animals.
Heather Moore writes for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)!
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