New Ms Fit Feature: Stephanie Harris
We have said many times that the people we meet and what we learn from them has been truly the greatest part of Ms Fit For Society. We are so happy to share this very important Ms Fit feature on Stephanie Harris, Massachusetts State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. Stephanie shared with us the historic ways that Massachusetts is leading the cause for animal welfare and also shares how we can get involved:
Right now, Massachusetts is the epicenter of the animal welfare movement. A measure is headed to the ballot this November to prohibit the meat and egg industry’s horrific practice of confining pigs, calves, and chickens in cages so small they can barely move. This cruelty threatens animal welfare, the environment, and public health and wellness.
You can be a part of this historic measure by gathering signatures to help the grassroots campaign, Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, secure placement on the November 2016 ballot.
I serve as the Massachusetts State Director for The Humane Society of the United States, working in the Commonwealth to advance legislative priorities and build coalitions, help facilitate enforcement of animal protection laws, and bring basic pet care to under-served communities. Here’s a little video HSUS put together to introduce me back when I first started!
After studying political science, I worked in wildlife rehabilitation – working and living on-site at a rehab center in Connecticut. From there, I was fortunate enough to connect with The HSUS and work on two wildlife protection ballot campaigns in Michigan and Maine.
Today, I juggle my time as the state director with my role as campaign director for Citizens for Farm Animal Protection. Our campaign office is at the MSPCA-Angell in Jamaica Plain – and it’s a full-blown political campaign office with mountains of volunteer packets and “Vote YES!” posters plastered to our walls.
We spend a lot of our time in that campaign office, so Brigitte, our campaign manager, and I both tend to use the little downtime we have to hike – to get out and move. (Below is a picture of me hiking with my partner, Will, in the White Mountain National Forest.) This is a luxury that the vast majority of farm animals don’t have. As fitness-oriented people, you know how stir crazy we get when cooped up at the office or stuck on an airplane during a cross-country flight.
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., among the world’s foremost farm animal handling and slaughter experts, compares the life of a mother pig in a gestation crate to life in an airline seat. We can empathize with how awful that confinement is.
And we’re not the only ones.
Across the country, more than 100 leading companies have already condemned cage confinement, mandating better conditions for animals in their supply chain. This includes companies like Walmart, Nestle, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Stop & Shop, and many more.
Ten states have already passed various laws banning cage confinement systems for animals. The tide is turning in Massachusetts, too. Polls show that three out of four Massachusetts voters support this effort and animal protection is an issue that they overwhelmingly endorse across the board.
People care about what they put in their bodies.
And Massachusetts families are threatened daily by substandard eggs, pork, and veal sold from cruel and unsafe factory farms at home and across the country. Crowded, filthy factory farms are the perfect breeding conditions for disease, and the complete inability to exercise can weaken caged animals’ immune systems.
Numerous studies show higher rates of deadly food-borne diseases, such as Salmonella, among caged hen operations versus their cage-free counterparts. The egg industry itself acknowledges these problems, with one poultry publication stating, “Salmonella thrives in cage housing.”
Additionally, confined farm animals are often fed a steady stream of antibiotics to prevent them from dying prematurely in these wretched conditions. The use of antibiotics in caged animals can increase the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the food supply and among factory farm workers.
Whether you’re an animal lover, environmentalist, or concerned about public health, we need your help to clear the next hurdle for this campaign. Help us gather the 25,000 pen-to-paper signatures in May and June to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.
And, frankly, when we’re gathering signatures at events, we’re doing double-duty –good for the world and getting a workout, at the same time!
Qualifying for the ballot means Massachusetts voters can vote YES! on this measure in November. You can help protect mother pigs, egg-laying hens, and calves raised for veal from abuse and ensure that substandard, inhumane, and unsafe products from these cruel confinement systems aren’t sold in the Commonwealth.
For more information or to get involved, please visit www.citizensforfarmanimals.com or contact Stephanie Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-522-2016.