Problems with the USDA
On July 9, Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, gave an amazing speech before the Senate concerning the inhumane treatment of farm animals, which is becoming more widespread and barbaric. Because we think his speech is so important, we are reprinting most of it in this issue.
His speech included some examples of horrific acts of cruelty that had been video-taped by a humane organization, such as the chopping off of hooves from live, conscious cattle at a slaughter house in Texas, where 22 other violations for cruelty had been found.
The USDA has the responsibility to take action to prevent and end such incidents of cruelty. Sen. Byrd concluded that federal law is being ignored and said, “this agency needs to do a better job.”
A USDA inspector once told me that they are too busy with food stamp fraud to worry about animal cruelty.
I am aware of other incidents where the USDA failed to take action to prevent animal suffering. The agency has allowed puppy mills to remain open despite severe overcrowding. This spring, I checked on a capuchin monkey in a pet store in Latham, NY. His name was Jimmy, and he had been locked in a cage for over 20 years. I was quite surprised to hear from the store owner that the USDA had informed him that he had to get rid of the monkey — finally, after 20 years. The owner said he was waiting for them to remove the monkey. I contacted the USDA agent and was advised that the reason for the delay was that they haven’t had the time and didn’t want to spend $175 on a plane ticket to fly him to a sanctuary. On behalf of NYSHA, I bought the plane ticket, and now Jimmy is living happily at “Jungle Friends,” a primate sanctuary in Gainesville, Florida.
The USDA is going to be concerned about the humane treatment of animals only when they receive enough public pressure to do so. We still live in a time and country where animals are being skinned alive, and it should not be happening. Please FLOOD THE USDA WITH LETTERS AND PHONE CALLS. Your efforts may help to reduce the animal cruelty that is taking place. To ask for better inspections and enforcement of the laws protecting these animals, please write today to: The Honorable Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture — USDA — 1400 Independence Ave., SW — Washington, DC 20250. Let her know that you want protection for all animals.
Susan C. McDonough
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XV, No.3, Fall 2001.