Target: Dan DeSousa, Deputy Director of San Diego C0unty’s Department of Animal Services
Goal: Strictly enforce law that allows laying hens to have more room in enclosures
California voters have reduced the stress levels of laying hens within the state’s egg-producing establishments. Passed in 2008, a new law will require egg producers to provide resident hens with enough room to stand up, lie down and spread their wings without touching another bird. The law is to be upheld by individual counties in California. San Diego County is one of the top five egg producers in the state; its compliance with the new law is crucial to the law’s success.
The San Diego Department of Animal Services (DAS) will be responsible for responding to animal welfare complaints regarding the laying hens. The director of the DAS has stated that the citizens of the county will be the eyes and ears for managing this new law, meaning compliance with the new law will be dealt with in a case-by-case basis. This lax approach to laying hen welfare is dangerous, and could prove to be inadequate for enforcing the law.
The likelihood of an average citizen getting inside of a hen house to investigate the conditions is not high. Most operations are secretive and difficult to assess. In order to properly care for the hens and comply with the new welfare laws the DAS must perform routine investigations of egg farms, and fine owners who are still cramming multiple birds at a time into tiny battery cages. Encourage the DAS to take this new law seriously and vow to help the laying hens of San Diego live more comfortably.
Dear Mr. DeSousa,
Californian voters have made it clear that they want their eggs to come from birds that are not stressed or unnecessarily uncomfortable. In order to help this new law become a reality, each county must work to ensure that laying hens within its jurisdiction are able to comfortably stretch their wings.
The law is not exact, but one thing is clear: laying hens shall now be able to stretch their wings without touching another bird. As a major California egg producer, San Diego County has an unspoken obligation to help laying hens live comfortably. I am calling on you, as deputy director, to strictly enforce this new law.
You have mentioned that the San Diego Department of Animal Services will rely on the community to report any violations of this new animal welfare law. I urge you to take your responsibility a step further and perform routine, surprise investigations of each laying-hen farm within the county. Surprise investigations will not only encourage operators to comply, it will yield a much more positive outcome for the laying hens because your presence is felt and anticipated.
Please do all that you can to help the laying hens of San Diego County.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons