Meeting the Standards We Set for Ourselves

Posted by Carter Dillard, ALDF's Director of Litigation on January 24, 2011

Recently, Animal Legal Defense Fund attorneys filed suit against the state of Texas in the case Doe v. Suehs. The suit alleges that the state has done nothing to ensure that companies that produce eggs in the state comply with a state law which, in no uncertain terms, requires egg producers to not keep hens in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, and to attend to dead, injured, and ill hens. Our suit was prompted by an investigation conducted by the Humane Society of the United States which showed row upon row of filthy cages literally stuffed with hens, many of whom were diseased and injured. It also showed dead hens, left to rot among the living.


Video courtesy of The Humane Society of the United States

The suit simply asks for the state to take some action to help companies follow the law, a law which sets out minimal standards for the treatment of animals who do nothing but live lives of suffering to produce money for their captors. As in any case of this sort, the litigation shows us the horror of factory farming.

But this case will also show us something about hypocrisy because it asks for the residents of Texas to actually live according to the rules they have set for themselves, to live up to the image they have of themselves as reflected in the law. As Americans we have a view of ourselves as respecting free speech because we actually comply with the first constitutional amendment, a law that requires us to respect free speech and which tells the world the way we wish to be. In the same way the law at the heart of Doe v. Suehs tells us that the people of Texas are good enough to extend some minimal level of welfare to the animals they use. If at the end of the suit the state does not comply, for whatever reason, it will remain not only cruel, but will be telling itself and the world it does and should live in one way, while it goes on living in another.

In some cases the law can tell us something about the way we wish to see ourselves, and wish others to see us. Texas now has an opportunity to meet the image it has set for itself. Whether it chooses to do so remains to be seen.


20 thoughts on “Meeting the Standards We Set for Ourselves

  1. Betty Jean Herner says:

    This is such awful cruelty to do to the birds. This must be stopped

  2. mike says:

    wake up now and start being human

  3. Armand Fontaine says:

    I am a Texas resident and have raised my own, free range, chickens for years. This is the very reason. I can not fathom the cruelty inflicted on these hens. We are not all cruel, heartless abusers of hens here in Texas. Some of us have chosen to raise our own flocks rather than support the cruelty that factory farming inflicts on these beautiful birds.

  4. Donna Powell says:

    This is horrible. I don’t understand how they can allow this to happen.

  5. Hoffmann says:

    Like myself, many people are starting to raise chickens in their own backyard. I have a flock of 4 hens which allows me to understand the natural world of a chicken. My flock is “legal” accoding to our township code and are raised in the most humane and respectable way. Please support those wanting to put in the cost and effort to raise backyard chickens in your townships. Although a drop in the bucket, it shows others how to humane raise chickens and hopefully more will be outraged regarding the issues of cruel and awful treatment of production animals.

  6. Connie Cortez says:

    Why am I not suprised by this? Ah yes, Texas boasts of having everything bigger and it includes a bigger tolerance for animal abuse. Texas is also at the bottom of the tier in animal cruelty laws. So that explains everything.

  7. cheryl Horning says:

    Chickens have wonderful sweet loving affectionate personalities and live most interesting lives when given what they need. People cage them and force them to produce food, at least give them dignity and provide them a good life as only humans can.

  8. Steve Robbins says:

    As always, everything comes down to money. Never mind that a small sacrifice in profits could vastly reduce the misery of these poor birds; they have to make the maximum profit regardless of whom they harm and how badly. If child labor were still legal, they’d be hiring six-year old children and working them 18 hours a day for just a few bucks (and grumbling about having to pay those bucks).

  9. Alisha says:

    Well said, Steve. Money talks. Period. And corporations will go as far as they can, even beyond what the law allows, if it means stuffing their pockets full of our cash. Creating strong laws for animals and enforcing them is one way to keep our animals from suffering this horrific abuse. Also, we can refuse to fund this torture by not giving them our money. If people refuse to pay for this torture (by not eating eggs (or other animal products) or buying from people who do not use and abuse these beautiful beings) the market would dry up and go away.

  10. Dave and Rita Coss says:

    Again, this is another example of man’s inhumanity to animals!

    Ghandi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals! AMEN!

  11. M Genger says:

    The horrible plight of farm animals in general, is beyond utterly cruel, and should any one of us be put in that predicament we would see the utter Hell that is the lives of these poor animals. We as human beings, show no humanity. We must better our treatment of these animals, thus showing there is some “humanity” in humanity..instead of the slavering greed for the almighty dollar. To treat any innocent, frightened animal in this manner, shows only how little above animals WE really are..! It needs to stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. DEBY says:

    FROM THESE BEAUTIFUL INNOCENT ANIMALS WE EXPECT A PRODUCTION OF EGGS, UNWILLING TO PROTECT THE LIVING BEING WHO GIVES US THESE WONDERS. ITS A DAMNED SHAME THAT HUMANS ARE SO CRUEL AND THOUGHTLESS FOR THEIR OWN GAIN. I DONT KNOW HOW THEY LIVE WITH THEMSELVES AND WISH THEM THE SAME DEATH THEY INFLICT ON THESE HELPLESS ANIMALS.

  13. Eden Courtney says:

    Everyone should have to watch this video to see where their eggs really come from. I do still eat eggs on occasion, but I buy them from a local egg farm and I eat only a few a month, I buy a half dozen when I do buy them. When I was a small child, one of my uncles had a chicken farm and I have to admit that the chickens, especially the territorial roosters terrified me. I have never had a particular love of chickens, but that does not matter – the only important question for consideration when deciding what kind of conditions any animal should live in is ‘do they feel pain’ and, of course, we know all animals feel pain and fear it and death, and have a right to live their lives with dignity as much as we do. It’s good to see that more and more of this unconscionable cruelty is being exposed.

  14. Margaret says:

    It doesn’t take much for the farmers to comply with this law – they are just being lazy!

  15. Deanna says:

    Im sickened..Im a country girl who wont eat meat as a result of the animal cruelty inflicted to obtain it. I will not promote this behavior and have gotten family and friends to follow suit. This is so ridiculous and unnecessary..I am however thankful for judgment day and karma :O)

  16. Laura Jobe says:

    Unfortunately, I live in Texas and the Texas mentality leaves a lot to be desired. The Good Old Boy Network is in full force here and money doesn’t talk, it screams.

  17. CAN’T SOMEONE GET AN E-MAIL CAMPAIGN STARTED, SO ALL OF US MILLIONS OF POEPLE ON THE INTERNET CAN SIGN LETTERS BY E-MAIL TO BE SENT TO THE STATE OF TEXAS TO STOP – STOP – STOP THIS ATROCITY??
    HOW MANKIND TREATS ITS ANIMALS SHOWS HOW WE TREAT OURSELVES

  18. Glenn & Debbie Carson says:

    We’ve always thought of Texas as being a God-fearing state. Wouldn’t God want us to treat all creatures humanely?

  19. Angela says:

    Sorry, can’t say I am surprised. Yes, I hear they are part of the “Bible Belt” but really that only means there are going to be a lot of hypocrites who think more highly of themselves than they ought. And isn’t that one of the Bible’s abominations too?? Well, Texas, I hope you ARE the lone star cause there is nothing worth joining when it comes to your lead. When you die of the illnesses that inflict your sick hens, don’t look for pitty. You have no heart.

  20. Pressiana says:

    horrible =( soooooo sad…. these poor animals do not deserve such awful treatment