Chickens used as “props” in a media stunt

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Chickens used as “props” in a media stunt

Chickens at Victoria Animal Control

Chickens at Victoria Animal Control

Showing a clear lack of respect for the well-being of animals, several University of Victoria students released (some accounts say “tossed”) 6 hens into MLA Ida Chong’s office in Victoria during a Dogwood Initiative rally on Tuesday.

Dogwood Initiative is a BC-based environmental organization that has dealt with issues like urban sprawl and tankers on BC’s coast. They famously created decals to be placed on loonies depicting a loon caught in an oil slick.

They have since issued an apology on their website and have distributed it to the media.

Dogwood Initiative apologizes for the release chickens in Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong’s office on Tuesday, March 23 during a rally to protect forest lands and stop reckless development on Southern Vancouver Island.

….

Concerns have been raised about the welfare of the chicken released. We have investigated and determined that the chickens were not harmed during the event. We regret any distress that the chickens may have experienced during the event. The chickens are now Victoria’s Animal Control and we are taking steps to ensure that the birds are adopted by a humane home.

If you are able to provide a home for these chickens, or know someone who might be able to, contact Victoria Animal Control.

Apparently the students who released the chickens claimed that they were rescued from “a very crowded egg farm where they were they were living on a two foot pile of their own filth.” (Source) However, the chickens as pictured are clean, have all of their feathers, and nice, healthy combs. So I don’t know what to believe.

Valerie at GreenMuze wrote a really great post about the whole thing:

The apparent disconnect between environmental activism and animal rights was again highlighted by a recent protest organized by Victoria-based Dogwood Initiative. During the protest, student activists threw six live chickens into an office area to protest MLA Ida Chong’s inactivity on protecting the Western Forest Products land, located on Vancouver Island.

The fate of these lands has long been a contentious subject in the community, and, like most environmentalists, I think the lands must be protected. But I strongly disagree with the tactics of throwing and abandoning live animals to make a publicity point about saving forests.

Frankly, aside from the ignorance of the chicken throwers, what has surprised me the most is that the Dogwood Initiative would in anyway associate themselves with such a stupid stunt. Most thinking environmental organizations would run a million miles from assholes throwing lives animals at a protest. (Source)

She goes into a lot more detail and writes a lot better than I do, so I’d encourage you to check out the rest of that post for the whole story.

The apology was prompted by a much bigger backlash than Dogwood had anticipated. Not only did the Vancouver Humane Society and the BC SPCA speak out about in the media, a small but fierce firestorm raged on Twitter, Facebook, and in the comments sections of some of the articles (Victoria Times-Colonist, National Post, Province). Dogwood Initiative also received several phone calls about it. US-based poultry protection group United Poultry Concerns also put out a press release.

Chickens are one of the most abused animals on the planet. There was no need to subject them to such stress and danger for a media stunt. In the future, I hope that Dogwood Initiative and other activists will plan their events to show respect for all life, whether that be human or animal or the environment.

The apology

Dogwood is to be commended for issuing an apology, even though it was two days late and was not their first choice.

Some of my fellow activists have expressed concerns about the apology, wondering what steps Dogwood Initiative will be taking to ensure that these chickens find a safe and caring home. Also, some are bothered that the apology does not really address anything about the issues associated with the use of animals.

But, I do think it’s likely to be the best apology that we will get, and I do hope that going forward this makes it that much less likely that someone will think that it’s ok to exploit an animal for our own gain.

When animals are abused we need to be ready to stand up for them. If we don’t do it, no one else is going to. Especially if they are chickens.


7 Comments

Joanne

March 25, 2010 at 8:22 pm

These Dogwood people are very disappointing. When I called the Executive Director about the chicken stunt, he told me that he had no concerns about chickens being thrown as it is not illegal and that it was my personal issue.

I just looked at their FB page and found out that they recently had a sea BBQ…. a sea BBQ for a group that is trying to save the ocean??? Don’t they realize that the ocean is being depleted to the point of extinction (some say within 50 years)?

What’s wrong with tankers when Dogwood activists are going to eat all the living beings in the ocean anyway?

I don’t know what to think. Do they really care about the state of the ocean or are they just smitten with the idea of playing heroes?

Becci

March 26, 2010 at 11:34 am

Well said, Glenn. And in regards to the idea that the chickens were rescued from some horrendous egg farm–how out-of-touch is Dogwood if they think that THROWING egg-laying hens (who are sickly and fragile as a result of their confinement) somehow constitutes a kindness?

K

March 26, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Someone had told me that Vancouver Island had a very good activist community(compared with the Maritimes at any rate). I sure hope they did not mean this group.
Extremely pathetic–like something out of a farmer’s protest from rural America…in pre-industrial times.
But glad to see coverage of it.

Amy

April 18, 2010 at 11:31 am

Someone had told me that Vancouver Island had a very good activist community(compared with the Maritimes at any rate). I sure hope they did not mean this group.
Extremely pathetic–like something out of a farmer’s protest from rural America…in pre-industrial times.
But glad to see coverage of it.

Amy

April 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm

These Dogwood people are very disappointing. When I called the Executive Director about the chicken stunt, he told me that he had no concerns about chickens being thrown as it is not illegal and that it was my personal issue.

I just looked at their FB page and found out that they recently had a sea BBQ…. a sea BBQ for a group that is trying to save the ocean??? Don’t they realize that the ocean is being depleted to the point of extinction (some say within 50 years)?

What’s wrong with tankers when Dogwood activists are going to eat all the living beings in the ocean anyway?

I don’t know what to think. Do they really care about the state of the ocean or are they just smitten with the idea of playing heroes?

Michelle

April 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Well said, Glenn. And in regards to the idea that the chickens were rescued from some horrendous egg farm–how out-of-touch is Dogwood if they think that THROWING egg-laying hens (who are sickly and fragile as a result of their confinement) somehow constitutes a kindness?

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May 15, 2010 at 4:30 pm

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