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Advocates seek to abolish restrictive cages

June 6, 2014 |

Supporters of the Farm Animal Cruelty Act gathered in Westfield’s Park Square on June 3. Resident Heidi Colonna demonstrated the close quarters of a gestation crate.
Reminder Publications photo by Carley Dangona

By Carley Dangona

WESTFIELD – Advocates gathered to demonstrate the use of crates that prevent farm animals from stretching out or turning around in support of a bill currently before the state Legislature.
The Mass Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, Bill H.1456/S.741, is currently in the hands of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, of which state Rep. John Velis of Westfield is a member.

The committee is expected to address the pending motion on June 30. If passed, the use of extreme forms of animal confinement such as battery cages for egg-laying hens, gestation crates for pregnant pigs and veal crates for calves raised for veal would be prohibited throughout the Commonwealth.

“I have a special empathy [for the animals] that are in that vulnerable condition and are completely restrained,” Westfield resident Heidi Colonna said regarding the gestation crates. “All animals deserve proper care. Even animals used for food shouldn’t suffer.” She noted that she is three and a half months pregnant and became emotional when she entered the human-sized demonstration crate.
Alexis Fox, Massachusetts state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said, “The bill levels the playing field for humane farms [that don’t utilize extreme confinement]. Animals are capable of suffering just like humans. They can feel pleasure and joy and pain and suffering.”
Fox stated that the use of extreme confinement crates is illegal in 10 states, Canada and the European Union. She cited a 2014 Mason Dixon poll where more than 90 percent of Massachusetts voters favored outlawing such enclosures.

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