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June 10, 2011

HSI Canada Calls for Urgent Investigation into Barn Fire that Killed 23,000 Caged Hens

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Thousands of egg-laying hens are confined in small cages. The HSUS

MONTREAL—Humane Society International/Canada is calling for an immediate investigation by the authorities into the origins of a barn fire that killed 23,000 hens on Jun. 7 at Sparks Egg Farm in Calgary. The blaze burned through four barns in close proximity that housed the thousands of cage-confined hens who died of smoke inhalation or were burned alive in the facilities.

“The terrible deaths of these laying hens show that keeping such a huge number of animals confined in such small, enclosed areas can lead to tragic loss of life,” said Sayara Thurston, campaigner with Humane Society International/Canada. “Thankfully, the farm’s evacuation plan for its employees was carried out smoothly, and no human injuries were sustained. Tragically, tens of thousands of helpless birds were left to burn to death, suffering what must have been incredible terror, distress and pain, confined in tiny cages without any means of saving themselves.”

To date, there has been no mention of accountability for the devastating loss of animal life in the fire. Barn fires are an increasing event in Canada, with massive mortalities of farm animals resulting. This recent fire highlights the need for immediate changes to the building and fire codes for barns in Canada to prevent and limit the impact of barn fires.

Choosing to intensively confine a high volume of animals in cages heightens the risk that many animals will die as a result of a single accident or disease outbreak. Producers who chose these production methods must assume the responsibility for the wellbeing of the animals in their care. HSI Canada is calling on the Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Government to end the intensive confinement of laying hens in cages by helping producers transition to lower density, cage-free housing.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than 11 million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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