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ARCHIVE - Live Baby Birds Fly Unfriendly Skies

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The Honorable Senators ______________________________________
The U.S. Senate, U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Representative _________________________________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senators __________________________________________,

Dear Representative _____________________________________,

I am shocked Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) has proposed S. 2395, a bill to weaken the USPS's intervention on behalf of live animals shipped via mail. S. 2395 will result in the death of thousands more birds annually flown in cargo compartments.

As your constituent, I respectfully ask you to oppose Senate Bill 2395 and its House companion bill, when introduced.

Commercial hatcheries and cockfighting breeders dispatch millions of baby birds every year. It is currently legal for the U.S. Postal Service to mail these day-old chicks inside cargo areas designated for luggage. Live baby birds, considered perishables no different than flowers or fruit, fly without food or water. Although precise numbers have never been calculated, a 2005 report from the Bird Shippers of America (BSA) reveals more birds reach their destination dead than alive. In cargo holds without heat or air conditioning, temperature extremes range from subzero to sweltering. Chicks become critically dehydrated at more than 95F.

One Minnesota postal worker described "animals packed in to the point where they could barely move" and others commonly mashed to death or left on loading docks over an entire weekend. After humane groups objected to this cruel practice, the USPS finally initiated revised guidelines that require the coordination of live shipments through central offices, to assure their arrival. In addition, the USPS instituted a four-hour restriction on ground transportation.

Now, S. 2395 threatens to undercut these moderate changes by compelling the USPS to stipulate that certain airlines transport birds and send them via connecting cities, not necessarily on direct flights. S. 2395 also requires those airlines to mail birds in ANY temperature from 0 to 100F.

If S. 2395 passes, it basically forces the USPS to direct air carriers to accept live shipments under any conditions. I hope you agree this bill defies any sense of ethical responsibility.

In 2005 a Missouri hatchery mailed over 100 chicks to Pennsylvania. Only 55 of the hours-old chicks lived through shipment. The rest succumbed to suffocation, dehydration and neglect while waiting inside a cardboard box at a mailroom for several days. Fortunately, one kind postal worker refused to ship any surviving birds "back to sender," though legally obligated to do so. Instead, the chicks went to Farm Sanctuary's Emergency Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in Watkins Glen, New York.

Please vote against legislation that forces the shipment of live animals as mail. Senate Bill 2395 is irresponsible lawmaking and I strongly encourage you to reject it.

Thank you,

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