Larz’s Mission: Don’t Buy Pets as Easter Gifts this Spring

Hi folks,

Spring has begun. The flowers will soon be blooming and warmer temperatures are on their way. Some of you might also be planning to celebrate Easter. Here at Urban Hermits, we are celebrating our own special holiday: Larz’s 1st Hatchday! Along with this holiday, however, is an important story.

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Larz was found by a staff member at the Bronx Zoo last April. He was left at an office doorstep in a dog carrying crate. The staff member suspects that he was an Easter gift, likely for a child, but that the owner’s family lost interest or did not know how to care for him.

Unfortunately, this is a common issue during the spring. Spring chicks and bunnies are beloved but inappropriate Easter gifts. Zlati Meyer of the Detroit Free Press recently penned an article about the challenges of giving chicks as gifts. While the article particularly focuses on the spread of salmonella, it brings up issues associated with giving birds as gifts. Caretakers need to be committed to a long-term relationship (chickens can naturally live more than 10 years) and should understand a birds’s dietary, behavioral, and habitat needs. Immediately, it becomes evident that this is above the head of young children. The same goes for bunnies. Often, families decide that these obligations are too much and they decide to either put the animal up for adoption or sadly, release them into the wild to fend for themselves. A few friends of mine recently adopted a bunny they found wandering in their back yard around Easter time, he is one the lucky ones.

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From left to right: Tél, Sufi, Larz, and Django

Thanks to my friend at the Bronx Zoo, we were able to adopt Larz to our flock. Today he is doing great. He is very anxious and hyper but loves spending time with Tél, Sufi, and Django. His favorite food is carrots, which he loves to mash up, turning his face orange. We enjoy our time with Larz, but in the back of my mind I remember that he was once a scared, abandoned bird. This is Larz’s mission: bringing attention to taking responsibility for animals dependent on us and brining attention to spring/Easter pets.

Love,

Larz, Urban Hermits, and the rest of the flock!

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Important Piece on Egg-Laying Hens

We live in a world where people have become increasingly concerned about where their food comes from. Productivity is not the only thing that matters, as social factors, such as values, attitudes, and norms have a profound impact on peoples’ expectations of how food is and should be produced. Animal agriculture is a particularly hot topic because it raises numerous concerns regarding sustainability and our obligations to sentient beings that are entirely dependent on us.

In this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine, Deb Olin Unferth has penned a beautifully written and powerful piece about the debate over how to best house egg-laying hens and some of the problems plaguing this industry in general. She concludes:

Any way we look at it, it seems impossible for the egg industry to meet all our demands: happy hens, cheap eggs, an unlimited supply. The question of the cages turns back on us: How much are we willing to pay? How much are we willing to make the hens pay? If we continue to eat eggs at the current rate—a historically unprecedented high number—the hens who produce them will be treated horribly (Deb Olin Unferth 2014:50).

Although to view Harper’s online, you need a subscription, the non-profit United Poultry Concerns has posted a copy. Click here to read the article and be sure to share it with others!

Also on the topic of proper animal housing, I have been thinking a lot about the fight for fire safety in animal agriculture. Animal agricultural facilities are not held to the safety standards required in many of the buildings we live and work in (i.e. smoke detectors, sprinkler infrastructure). This, however, is problematic as the high stocking densities and confinement found in large operations are extremely dangerous to these animals when fire or other natural disasters strike. For example, just this past month, approximately 13,000 pigs were burned to death in Minnesota and 20,000 chickens died in Pennsylvania due to barn fires. The installation of basic fire safety equipment could have prevented the death of thousands. Click here to learn more about this issue.

I encourage you to think of the impact you have on egg laying hens and all animals in agriculture. Small changes and taking responsibility for our footprints can make a HUGE difference!

Until next time,

Urban Hermits

Illustration: Lauren Korany, Urban Hermits November 2014

Mark and Lauren Go Places: Farm Sanctuary!

Hey everyone,

In our latest installment of Mark and Lauren Go places, we take you to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY! Although Lauren was not present, she was there in spirit and would have certainly enjoyed the trip. Farm Sanctuary is an organization that focuses on rescuing farm animals, educating the public, and advocating for animal welfare. They are funded by a grant from the America Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). They have three locations, one being Watkins Glen, and then two in California (Orland and Los Angeles). If you are interested in finding out more or donating, definitely check out http://www.farmsanctuary.org. I purchased an awesome American Apparel hoodie in their shop that states, “Vegans: Saving the World with Every Bite!”, which is available in their online shop if you would like to support them in that way.

My trip to Farm Sanctuary was with the Penn State Vegetarian Club, based in State College, PA, which I am a part of. For more information about the club, check us out on Facebook! Below are some photos I took. I just bought a new camera and am still figuring it out, so excuse the timestamps!

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Photos by Mark Suchyta, Urban Hermits