[Note: here is a link to the Sunnyland Stomp website: http://sunnylandstomp.com/latest-stomp-news/ ]
10 hrs July 10, 2015 Wendy Harris
Enlightened Bellingham still thinks it is amusing to take animals into strange noisy environments and have them engage in meaningless acts, purely for the purpose of human amusement. It is all good fun, a “friendly gathering of chicken owners”, … just ask the sponsor, Scratch and Peck Feeds.
Here is how the race, which is part of the Sunnyland Stomp and Chicken Race, is described: “The races will consist of several heats of 2-3 chickens at a time that will be released on one end of a long, fenced in enclosure that will contain the 3 obstacles. All chickens will be released by one member of each team at the same time and will be encouraged by their owners and others in their team to reach the other end through verbal calls, feed tossing, physical signals, or other techniques to coerce the chicken. There is no limit to team size.
The first chicken to make it through all 3 obstacles and cross the finish line will be the winner of the heat. That chicken will then go on to compete in other heats until we have a final winner. There will be a first, second and third place winner, with all three winning glorious prizes and enduring fame.”
I betcha every chicken in town is just itching to make it to that race, being loudly “cajoled”, feeling confused and overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise, having feed thrown at them and in other ways being “coerced” to make it through an obstacle course. And if they win, they get to do it again and again! Perhaps in heat and unhealthy air quality.
Really, Bellingham? Is it really that hard to understand that this is an unnecessary stress on the chickens, and the very worst reason to create any level of stress and fear in animals is for amusement?
Well, not everyone is amused, nor will everyone be patronizing this event or participating businesses. For example, the The Washington Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies is opposed to any event that features or involves the abuse, torment or exploitation of animals.
“The Federation has found that each year there are a variety of events, private, local, state and national, organized for profit or entertainment that involve the abuse of animals. Examples include circuses which involve animals in their performance, zoos with cage confinement, dog racing, horse racing, bullfights, donkey basketball, baseball, hockey or polo, “suicide” horse races, wildlife roundups of animals such as rattlesnakes, rabbits or fox, greased pig contests, calf scrambles, chicken races, turkey drops, animal fighting of dogs, pigs, finches, roosters or any other companion or farm animal, and other similar events.
In no case are these events vital to the community. These events have a desensitizing effect on adults and children, making them unsympathetic to the suffering of other life forms and allowing them to believe that animal abuse and exploitation can be thought of as an acceptable form of entertainment.”
Are there much worse situations involving animal entertainment/abuse? Of course. But is that really the point? One disturbing fact about this race is that it is targeted at children. And what is the message that we are teaching? Think about how cultural hegemony works. This is how we transform children, who have natural empathy for animals, into animal product purchasers, who support the status quo. Please join me in boycotting the chicken races.