This post first published on Care2.com.
Excited that he won a blue chick in a church raffle, a young child ran to show his mom. Like thousands of chicks every year, this baby bird was dyed as an Easter novelty to be sold or raffled off to families.
Thankfully this boy’s mother valued the tiny chick’s life and asked Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in High Falls, NY to give him a home. Picasso has grown into a handsome rooster who loves his life at the sanctuary.
Not all chicks are so lucky. Easter is a time of rejoicing and renewal for Christians, but for thousands of innocent chicks, this season is nothing to chirp about.
Every Easter, families across the country purchase chicks for their children only to drop them off at shelters a few weeks later when the novelty wears off or they can’t commit to caring for the animal. A more recent trend is rent-a-chick programs promoted by retailers and farmers throughout the country in the weeks leading up to Easter.
RENTING BABY CHICKS DOESN’T TEACH CHILDREN RESPONSIBILITY
The rental program is popular because children can enjoy the novelty of caring for a chick without the long-term commitment.
One farmer in New Jersey who rents chicks to families promotes the program as “… teaching kids to appreciate animals and to better understand the responsibility of caring for them.” The farms Facebook Page promotes the rental chick program as a “… great educational way to introduce children to caring for a live animal without a long-term commitment!”
Another farmer in Maryland said his rent-a-chick program allows parents to “…give their children a fluffy surprise on Easter without getting stuck with a new pet.”
Picasso started out life dyed blue and raffled off as an Easter novelty, but today he is enjoying life at the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.
Photo courtesy of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.
Caring for pets has long been credited with teaching children responsibility, trust, compassion, understanding, empathy and respect for animals and by extension other people. Parents who adopt pets from shelters teach children about the importance of saving a life and committing to the care of that animal for his or her lifetime.
Despite the promotions, renting chicks for Easter does not teach children responsibility, respect or compassion for animals.
“By renting animals for a few weeks and then just sending them back to eventually be slaughtered children are being taught—even if unintentionally—that these animals are disposable,” said Andrea Springirth, animal caretaker and humane educator at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.
Many farmers and retailers say they started the rent-a-chick program to help cut down on the numbers of chicks being released to the shelters. But what these rental programs actually represent is the further exploitation of animals for profit with little or no concern for the welfare or interests of the animal, said Springirth.