Friday, April 6, 2012

Nobody Minds Dyeing The Egg, But The Chicken Is Another Story

Cute as they are, they are not made of marshmallow.

If only they were, nobody would have a problem with newborn chicks that are dyed in brilliant colors — neon, Fruity Pebbles, pastel, Crayola box — to serve as festive Easter gifts. The dye is either injected in the incubating egg or sprayed on the hatchling, and while poultry farmers say it is harmless, many people object, saying it turns live birds into holiday playthings that are quickly discarded.

About half the states and a scattering of municipalities have laws against the practice, but in Florida last month, the Legislature passed a bill to overturn a 45-year-old ban on dyeing animals. By all accounts, the deed was done at the request of a dog groomer who wanted to enter contests where people elaborately sculpture and color their pets.
The outcry from animal rights groups has been swift.
“Humane societies are overflowing with these animals after Easter every year,” said Don Anthony of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. “This law has protected thousands of animals from neglect and abuse, and it shouldn’t be lifted on the whim of one dog groomer who wants to dye poodles purple.”
Dyed Easter chicks have been a seasonal staple in parts of the country for generations, though the practice has gone largely underground as society’s tastes have changed.
“A lot of the hatcheries will no longer do the dyeing of the animals,” said Andrew Malone, a poultry farmer in Melbourne, Fla., adding that he had seen other farmers sell them here and there in Florida. “If someone comes to me and wants colored chicks during the Easter time, I could do it, but I stay away from it because I don’t want to be in the pet business.”

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