Monday, November 29, 2021

‘Let’s reduce the misery’

Metropolitan Museum of Art

     Before we consider the issue that U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., phoned me to talk about last week — shipping fighting birds through the United States Postal Service — we need to wrap our heads around the general idea of animals being sent through the mail.
     It is a common practice.
     “They sent me a list of things you can legally mail,” Quigley said. “Poultry, honeybees, scorpions, live adult birds, which is depressing. Baby alligators, frogs, chameleons, lizards, etc.”
     Which makes sense. Animals need to get to farms and pet stores. It isn’t like they can take a bus. Posting them doesn’t strike me as particularly cruel. Given the amount of time a frog spends hibernating at the bottom of a frigid lake, four days in a dark container doesn’t seem a crime against nature.
     But that isn’t the problem Quigley is trying to address.
     “Today we’re focused on buying, selling, possessing or receiving any animals for purposes of the animal participating in a fighting venture,” Quigley said.
     Cockfights — putting two birds in a ring, with razor talons attached to their claws, and goading them to maul each other — is one of the more obscure sub-hells of sport. Illegal in all 50 states, it is still permitted in territories like Puerto Rico and Guam.
     Maybe I’ve been softened up by COVID isolation, But I was happy just to be approached by somebody about something. Quigley could have been exercised about the Oxford comma, and I’d give him my ear.
     Earlier this month, Quigley sent a letter to Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale, asking the USPS to develop a strategy to start better enforcing the 2002 federal law against shipping animals for fighting purposes.
     “There have been 500 shipments of fighting birds, mostly from state-based farms in the Carolinas, some 10,000 fighting animals sent to Guam,” Quigley said. The birds are also being sent to Puerto Rico.

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  1. Way, way back in the 70s, I remember getting a Sears catalog that had honey bees & baby chicks & telling that they were shipped by the Post Office.
    Sears really did sell just about everything.

  2. This all seems to be rather an inordinate focus on the birds' transportation rather then their destination, and I don't know why we're beating up the USPS over this. The Postal Service has been around for hundreds of years now, and has written procedures for shipping EVERYTHING, including organisms both living and deceased. (They list a very spiffy, complimentary Cremated Remains shipping kit on their website, thus offering an alternative for getting the late Aunt Edna home besides strapping her to the roof of the car.)

    On more than one occasion I've walked into the lobby of our local PO to a loud chorus of cheeping coming from an official LIVE BIRDS box awaiting pickup, which the staff had brought in from the loading dock so that the birds would stay warm. Granted, there was that tragic mishap in which many birds died, but Congressman Quigley's main focus seems to be on the intent of the birds' travel rather than their method, and I don't know how the USPS is supposed to regulate that. Nor would I want to see them try.

    1. I'm not sure that Quigley is "beating up" the USPS, as asking them to develop a plan to enforce the law. That doesn't strike me as excessive, the way a complete ban would be.

    2. Birds have died "in transit" for a long, long time. Back in the 70s, when the air conditioning failed on a big cargo plane, the headline in the pun-happy Sun-Times read "3,000 Birds Die In Foul-Up"...

      And birds used to be shipped by other means. I have an old electric railroad calendar with an image of a panel truck unloading cartons of peeping chicks onto a train that has stopped at a small-town interurban station in Illiopolis, near Springfield, IL. The image probably dates from the the late Forties or early Fifties.

      The lettering on the truck, which was owned by the DeKalb Hybrid Seed Company, reads "DeKalb Chix"...and the logo also includes a chick. So it appears that newly-hatched baby chicks from this Downstate hatchery routinely traveled by rail.

  3. When I worked for a trade magazine in my 20s, we used to go to Pontiac, Illinois, to print the issues, union avoidance probably being the main reason we didn't print closer to Chicago. The people down there were very nice and almost Southern in their speech, but what astounded me were the conversations about Friday night cock fighting. I could hardly believe that such existed in the United States. But it did.


  4. when I think of the conditions most birds live in prior to being slaughtered for our consumption, it seems like just another case of isn't it awful what THOSE people do!!! We completely ignore the savagery heaped upon livestock by proxy so that we can have our chicken McNuggets.

    Yes cock fighting is deplorable but to think the USPS would have chicken sexers available to determine the males from females seems a little far-fetched

    If the concern is indeed specific birds being mailed to Guam after being I don't know bread or trained to fight then get a law passed that says that's illegal.

    TodayI got a notification from USPS about two ring bearings that I had ordered being delivered 2 days ago into the mailbox at my shop. But alas no such package arrived.
    It would sure be nice if they could just deliver the things they're supposed to to the place they're supposed to go that'd be great.

    I did get a box of bees in the mail once thankfully I had ordered them


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