To the editor:
I love animals. Most people do. We value our dogs and cats as part of the family, often thinking of them as four-legged children. We love our horses. We love our local wildlife. Since moving to Massachusetts, I've become obsessed with birds, going to great lengths to invite them into our yard.
Right now, it's becoming increasingly more popular to love farm animals. I have visited a number of sanctuaries — petting pigs and rubbing the noses of cows — laughing as the goats, along with chickens and turkeys and a couple of barn cats follow me across the yard.
And yet most of us don't spend much time thinking about the quality of life — or lack thereof — that our food animals endure. Ballot Question 3 is a small step toward such consideration.
A commonsense initiative, Question 3 is a simple way to greatly improve the lives of chickens, pigs and calves. Currently in Massachusetts, it is completely legal to pack chickens into cages so small the birds cannot spread their wings, a natural and necessary behavior. It is also legal to force veal calves and pigs into barren crates, denying them enough space to even turn around.
How would any of us like to spend our entire life in constant claustrophobia? I stretch all the time. How about you?
Because of the current stance of the law, thousands of farm animals are suffering right now in confinement systems. If given the opportunity, Massachusetts voters would have the ability to change this. Question 3 ensures that farm animals are provided sufficient room to simply move around. This is not an unreasonable request. It is a right belonging to all living creatures. Most of us would never dream of subjecting our beloved dogs and cats to such horrific conditions, even in temporary situations such as travel.
Chickens, pigs and cow are social, intelligent beings deserving better than the cruelty of extreme confinement. I sincerely hope that Massachusetts voters make the humane choice at the polls this fall and vote "Yes on 3."
Elizabeth Nelson, Pittsfield