Dyeing animals neon-bright pinks, purples and other hues is banned in about half the states of the U.S. But last month, the Florida legislature passed a bill to overturn the ban, with a view to assuaging a dog groomer wanting to “enter contests where people elaborately sculpture and color their pets,” says the New York Times. Animal rights activists have immediately cried foul, charging that, especially after Easter, humane societies are “overflowing” with animals dyed the same colors as commercial Easter candy.
Chicks in particular are dyed, either by injecting an incubating egg with dye or food coloring or by spraying hatchlings. The bright colors are not permanent as the chicks shed their fluff and normal-colored feathers grow in. Indeed, the New York Times points out, there are “scientific and educational purposes” for dyeing chicks, such as tracking them after they hatch and to show students how the birds’ feathers come in.
Poultry experts say the practice is safe, provided the dye is non-toxic. But children given the colorful chicks in an Easter basket soon tire of them. Fewer poultry farmers sell them and those who do are “tight-lipped” about the whole business:
One farmer in Missouri, who asked that her name not be used to avoid reprisals, said she dyed chicks to sell (quietly) to the wholesale trade. “The bird’s sprayed with a fine mist,” she said. “It’s done real quickly, and the birds are put in a hatcher, where they dry off real quick. It does not hurt them at all.”
Animal rights advocates object to such claims, saying that the dyeing process is “stressful” for the chicks. They also object to selling the birds at such a young age, noting that the the Florida law which legislators wish to repeal also decrees that chicks cannot be sold or given away before they are four weeks old.
Not that you have any plans to making, giving or receiving an Easter basket this Sunday. But should you be so inclined, there are numerous other options for filling a basket (including foregoing a basket and loads of candy over-wrapped in plastic packaging) than live animals who will not be cared about after some fleeting initial fascination.
As for the practice of dyeing animals colors that they are not: Are there any benefits to the animals to be subjected to such? Should we not take into account the experience of the animals whose feathers or fur is being dyed colors that don’t exist in nature?
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