AWI Quarterly » 2017 Summer

Summer 2017 Quarterly Cover Photograph by Grzegorz Lesniewski/ Minden Pictures
Summer 2017 Volume 66 Number 2
Birds, including chickens, are commonly used in animal research. However, housing facilities are often optimized for mammals and contain no ultraviolet (UV) light. Unlike mammals, most birds are tetrachromatic, meaning that they can see in both the visible and ultraviolet (UV) spectrum.
In 2010, nearly 200 dogs and over 50 cats were saved from a North Carolina animal testing facility, after an undercover investigation exposed callous treatment and even malicious abuse of the animals by laboratory personnel. (See AWI Quarterly, fall 2010.)
Avian influenza (“bird flu”) returned to the United States in 2017, two years after the disease was responsible for the worst animal disease outbreak in US history, with the loss of 50 million chickens and turkeys. Thus far, the 2017 outbreak has been far more limited, affecting birds at approximately one dozen poultry operations in the South and upper Midwest.
The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) released a report in early 2017 that scored restaurants, producers, and grocery stores on their commitment to farm animal welfare. The report showed that there is increased attention to animal welfare among corporations. Compared to other corporate social responsibility concerns, however, it is still in its early stages.
In other corporate responsibility news, restaurants and producers are beginning to make commitments to improve the lives of chickens raised for meat (known to the industry as “broiler” chickens).
At a slaughterhouse in Pennsylvania last year, an employee made three attempts to render a pig unconscious with a rifle, with the animal vocalizing after each shot to the head. The plant did not have an appropriate backup stunning device available, so one of the employees drove to his home to retrieve another rifle, returning 10 minutes later to finally put the animal out of his misery.
In 1996, animal scientist Dr. Temple Grandin conducted an audit of 24 federal slaughter plants for the US Department of Agriculture. She found that only 30 percent of the plants were able to effectively render cattle insensible to pain with one stunning shot, as required by the federal humane slaughter law.
Maryland has placed a two-year moratorium on killing contests targeting cownose rays. The new law also directs the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to create a fishery management plan for the species by the end of 2018. AWI submitted testimony to both houses of the Maryland legislature in favor of the bill (SB 268/HB 211).
In 2012, the animal protection community was shocked to learn that an orca (later named Narnia) had been captured in the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia. This was a huge step backward in a world otherwise progressing rapidly toward ending the display of orcas. By 2015, at least 19 orcas from the region had been taken from their families.
On April 25, a World Trade Organization arbitrator ruled that Mexico can pursue retaliatory measures against the United States for the $163 million a year Mexico claims to lose because of US import restrictions on tuna not caught in accordance with US “Dolphin-Safe” standards.
For the second year in a row, Kristján Loftsson, CEO of the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur, stated that there will likely be no commercial fin whale hunt this summer.
Mexico implemented a two-year ban on gillnets in April 2015 throughout the Upper Gulf of California to reduce vaquita deaths. Despite this, three of the tiny porpoises were found dead in March 2016, another three in March 2017, all during the spawning season for Gulf corvina and the endangered totoaba.
In the early 2000s, every time animal advocates turned around, it seemed there was a new proposal for a dolphinarium in the Caribbean. We fought every one—some were halted; others went forward.
In 2014, AWI was invited by Virgin Holidays—one of the world’s biggest tourism companies—to take part in a stakeholder process through which Virgin intended to fine tune its policy on swim-with-dolphin attractions.