Ohio Veterinary Professionals Provide Critical Support for Farm Animal Welfare Initiative

June 28, 2010

Ohio veterinary professionals are joining HSVMA in providing critical support for a ballot initiative that would address some of the most inhumane agribusiness practices in the state. More than 75 veterinary professionals in the state have publicly endorsed the measure, and others have taken additional steps to promote the initiative in their practice, among colleagues and in a variety of public venues.

Pigs in stall
The Ohioans for Humane Farms ballot initiative tackles some of the cruelest methods utilized on factory farms to confine animals.

"As experts in animal health and well-being, the public looks to the veterinary profession for leadership on animal welfare issues," said Dr. Susan Krebsbach, an HSVMA veterinary consultant and graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine who is coordinating HSVMA veterinary outreach in the state. "This ballot initiative gives us the opportunity to show support for modest, science-based welfare reforms, and it is encouraging that so many of our Ohio veterinary colleagues are stepping forward to do so."

The Ohioans for Humane Farms ballot initiative, which will be on the November ballot if qualified by the Secretary of State, would tackle some of the cruelest methods utilized on factory farms to confine, transport and euthanize animals. More specifically, it would outlaw confining egg-laying hens, veal calves, and pregnant sows in a manner that prevents such animals from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely. The measure would also mandate that euthanasia of animals on farms be done humanely—in a way that is approved by veterinary authorities. In addition, cattle who are too sick to stand or walk would be prohibited from being transported to slaughter for human consumption.

The measure, which is based on sound science would provide modest improvements for millions of animals living on Ohio factory farms. Seven other states—Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, Maine, Florida, Colorado, and California—have passed similar laws to phase-out certain agribusiness practices.

More than endorsements

In addition to endorsing the measure, several Ohio veterinary professionals are publicly promoting this initiative in creative ways. Dr. Julie O'Connell, practice owner of the Park Plaza Animal Hospital just outside Cincinnati, signed on early by co-authoring an article for the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) newsletter about the problems with extreme confinement of veal calves, gestation pigs, and egg-laying hens in 2009. She put pen to paper again when she wrote a letter that was sent to most veterinarians in the state of Ohio earlier this year, as well as recent letters to the editor in various Ohio newspapers, soliciting support for the ballot initiative. At least 10 other Ohio veterinarians are also submitting letters to Ohio newspapers to solicit support.

Meanwhile, Dr. Lee Schrader, internal medicine specialist from Centerville, OH, recently employed her powerful speaking skills to educate members of her local veterinary medical association about why the Ohioans for Humane Farms ballot initiative should receive the support of Ohio veterinarians.

And Dr. Brain Forsgren, practice owner of Gateway Animal Clinic in Cleveland, OH and past OVMA president, sponsored a neighborhood event in June that was held in association with the Tremont Artwalk. The clinic opened its doors to three artists who displayed art specifically focused on animals. This was an opportunity for attendees to sign the petition and buy a chicken, cow, pig, or barn—the two dimensional kind, but they all came with a no-mess guarantee! The event was attended by about 600 people and over 500 signatures were obtained. Other veterinarians are posting information on their clinic websites, participating in signature gathering events and even collecting signatures in their clinics.

To learn more about the Ohioans for Humane Farms ballot initiative and to download an endorsement form, please go to OhioHumane.com.