25 March 2011

Animal advocates urge Florida schools to stop torturing animals

Two animal rights organizations have banded together to try to convince the Florida Department of Education to start following its own rules on animal welfare.

United Poultry Concerns (UPC) and Humane Educators Reaching Out (HERO) filed the petition with the board earlier this month. The catalyst for the petition was a criminal investigation launched against two high school students, in Alachua County, Florida in June of 2009. The students were arrested and both charged with felony cruelty to animals after they tortured a chicken to death and videotaped their abuse during a project for a Future Farmers of America (FFA) class.

According to the teacher who was in charge of the students at the time, as a project, the students had raised baby chicks which they kept in a coop on school property. On the day the video was shot, the teacher was helping students, "kill and properly package their chickens."

The charges against the students were dropped by the State Attorney’s Office in early December of 2009 because the chicken was allegedly dead at the time the video was shot.

"We want an end to animal cruelty in Florida schools," says UPC president Karen Davis. "The orgy of abuse at Hawthorne High School led directly to the torture of a living creature outside the classroom. Instead of learning to be kind to animals, students were taught to be cruel. This is not what students should be learning from their teachers."

The petition asks the board to fully implement the “humane education, kindness to animals, and anti-vivisection/biological experimentation components of the Florida K-12 educational system.” It also asks the board to take “appropriate remedial instruction or
discipline” against the former principal of Hawthorne High School as well as the FFA teacher who was involved in the incident.

For more information, visit United Poultry Concerns (UPC).

Sara Best | @shbest
Sara was literally born into the animal welfare movement. While growing up, her father worked with various organizations on campaigns from the Canadian seal hunt to the slaughter of dogs in the Philippines to the ivory trade in Africa. Eventually, Sara became involved in animal protection projects herself. Now she is a writer living near Toronto, a mom to two little omnivores and married to one dedicated carnivore. Visit Sara's blog.

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