Veterinarians: Join HSVMA in Calling for End to Extreme Confinement of Farm Animals

July 17, 2013

Sow in gestation crate
Proposed bills in Massachusetts and New Jersey aim to ban the use of restrictive and continuous confinement in small cages, such as gestation crates for pregnant sows.

Nearly 300 Northeastern veterinarians have joined with the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association in endorsing legislative reforms that would protect breeding pigs and veal calves from extreme and continuous confinement in small cages. During 2013, HSVMA has been supporting this type of legislative reform in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

“As veterinarians, we recognize that isolating intelligent, social animals from each other in tiny cages with the inability to engage in most natural behaviors causes them great physical and psychological suffering and is unacceptable,” said HSVMA Senior Veterinary Advisor Barry Kellogg, VMD, of Pittsfield, Mass. “This position not only reflects the latest science, but also the sentiments of a new generation of veterinarians who are concerned about animal welfare as well as the majority of the public who are demanding these changes as conscientious consumers.”

Massachusetts Senate Bill 741 would require that breeding pigs and veal calves have enough space to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. More than 180 Massachusetts veterinarians have signed HSVMA’s support letter. The Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on the bill earlier this month, and two HSVMA veterinary representatives – Dr. Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, DACVB, professor of animal behavior at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and an HSVMA Leadership Council member, and Dr. Joann Lindenmayer, DVM, MPH, an HSVMA member and Associate Professor of Public Health at Tufts, attended the hearing to support the legislation. The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the Joint Committee.

HSVMA also supported New Jersey Senate Bill 1921, a bill that would have required that breeding pigs be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs. HSVMA was joined by an additional 100 veterinarians from throughout the Garden State in supporting this legislation, which was approved this spring by landslide votes in both the New Jersey Assembly (60 to 5) and New Jersey Senate (29 to 4). Unfortunately, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ignored the overwhelming political and public support for this legislation and vetoed the bill in June.

In conjunction with these legislative efforts, HSVMA recently issued a veterinary report on gestation crates that outlines the animal health and welfare concerns associated with the extreme confinement of pregnant pigs and documents the scientific research supporting this position.

In related news, HSVMA Leadership Council member Dr. Barry Kipperman recently published a commentary on, “Why Small Animal Veterinarians Should Care about Farm Animal Welfare,” in the May 2013 issue of DVM Newsmagazine. This article generated significant response in the July 2013 edition of DVM Newsmagazine.

If you’re interested in helping with HSVMA efforts to end the extreme confinement of farm animals (i.e. by supporting legislative efforts, submitting commentary and letters to the editor, and through other avenues) please let us know.