Animal cruelty appalling
Laura Graham
September 9, 2005

You don't have to be a tofu-eating, Frisbee-tossing, tree-hugging hippie with "Meat is Murder" stickers on your car - or even a vegetarian - to be appalled by the inhumane treatment of animals on industrialized factory farms.

On Wednesday, Arizonans for Humane Farms, a coalition of animal welfare organizations, filed a ballot initiative with the secretary of state to provide more humane treatment for Arizona farm animals.

The coalition wants to collect 200,000 signatures from registered Arizona voters and qualify for the November 2006 ballot.

The initiative would prevent the cruel treatment of pigs and young veal calves that spend the majority of their miserable lives in small confined crates - suffering from a variety of ailments.

According to Stephanie Nichols-Young, president of the Animal Defense League of Arizona, the law would "preserve Arizona's tradition of humane farming, a clean environment, sound public health and safe foods."

Some have made the argument, "Who cares? They are going to die anyway." But, that statement is just as ignorant as it is cruel.

It's like saying, "Hey, your grandma may die soon, but does that mean she should live her last days locked in a closet?"

According to the Arizonans for Humane Farms Web site, "The extreme overcrowded conditions cause misery and suffering for the animals while polluting the air, contaminating the groundwater and threatening human health."

One report released in 2002 by the University of Iowa and Iowa State asserted that the "hydrogen sulfide and ammonia emissions from large-scale animal confinement facilities can pose a health risk to humans."

Also, animals confined in this way are much more likely to contract bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, according to the president of Farm Sanctuary.

Veal calves suffer emotionally, as well. The calves are, as Arizonans for Humane Farms says, "prevented from engaging in their natural behaviors or from satisfying basic psychological needs." These poor animals become scared, frustrated and bored - shaking, head tossing and air chomping. These young calves are not treated as animals; they are just viewed as unfortunate commodities.

Arizona does not have a huge crated veal industry yet. However, without this ballot, crated veal operations in this state may increase. An estimated 1 million veal calves are raised and killed in this country each year.

Female breeding pigs have it just as bad on these factory farms. According to Arizonans for Humane Farms, Arizona is home to an estimated 16,000 breeding pigs, which spend the majority of their lives in two-feet-wide metal gestation crates.

Like the calves, these sows are not given enough room to turn around or extend their limbs - nor are they provided with basic psychological needs. Then, after spending their miserable pregnant lives in these restrictive crates, they are sent to the slaughter and into people's kitchens.

Factory farms want to keep the most animals in the least amount of space and maximize output - at the lowest cost possible. However, this is done at a great expense to animal welfare, the environment and public health.

Concern for animal welfare isn't just for people who wear patchouli and belong to P.E.T.A; it is for all citizens concerned with the well-being of our world.

Even some steak-eating, gun-toting rednecks would shudder at the grisly sight of these animal concentration camps. Hopefully, the needed signatures will be obtained, and Arizona can help "Git R Done."

Laura Graham is a journalism junior. Reach her at