Hope for Our Future

Humane PA is reposting a great opinion piece from the Lancaster Sunday News by 10th grade student, Rachel Rusch, who stands against animal cruelty, whether it is puppies or pigeons – a lesson many of our legislators could take to heart. Congratulations Rachel. You are a great example of compassion and leadership and you give all of us hope for the future.               pigeonshoots

Pass a law to ban live pigeon shoots What’s your opinion?
By Rachel Rusch, Special to the Sunday News
Animal abuse is a terrible thing, and very much illegal. Or is it? Pigeon shooting is a popular sport here in Pennsylvania. But these shoots should be labeled as animal cruelty as they do not prove any type of sportsmanship for the shooter. It is an unfair game.

Pigeons are raised or captured, often illegally, and are kept in cramped cages where they barely have room to move or breathe. These poor birds are starved for days before being carted away to their doom. At the hunting clubs, they are strapped into a catapult and launched into the air.

With their equilibrium off-balance, they have no chance to escape and are shot down. Shotgun pellets often do not kill the pigeons right away, and the poor birds are left flapping and struggling on the ground until life leaves them. Some birds aren’t lucky enough to be dead before the trapper boys pick them up, snapping their necks and wings. As if that isn’t enough, the dead birds are often used for games like kickball.

When the children have had their fun, the corpses are tossed into piles, and any remaining living birds are suffocated.

I can attest to this. A few years ago, I lived five minutes from a hunting club that regularly supported this sick game. I remember looking out the car window and watching it happen in front of me. It was traumatizing.

While pigeons are often referred to as rats of the air, they were successfully used in World War II to deliver crucial messages for help when there was no other way to communicate. Pigeons were valued by soldiers whose lives were saved.

The tradition of pigeon shoots is too cruel to be continued. Clay discs can easily be used in place of live birds. Pigeon shooting not only harms innocent life, but it also teaches children who watch that animal abuse is OK.

The shooters are not chasing down the bird in its natural environment, and the practice does not exemplify sportsmanship. There’s a difference between that and setting up an already weak animal to be massacred.

I strongly encourage you to write to your local senator and persuade support for state Senate Bill 510, which would ban this cruel practice. Do not worry that it will change hunting laws.

In a memo to colleagues announcing introduction of the bill, state Sen. Patrick Browne, R-Lehigh County, wrote, “The legislation would prohibit the use of live animals or fowl for target trap shoots and block shoots. A trap shoot involves immediately launching a moving target and a block shoot involves a tethered or stationary target. An individual who willfully organizes, operates or conducts one of these shoots commits a summary offense.”

He continued, “This legislation will protect legitimate hunting activities in the Commonwealth but will also prevent the use of live animals or fowl for purely target practice activities.”

In other words, it does not have any effect on people who hunt game animals in their natural habitat. So please, find out if there is a hunting club in your county that supports pigeon shoots, and if there is, write to your senator. Pigeon shoots should be labeled as animal cruelty.

Rachel Rusch, 15, of New Holland, is a 21st Century Cyber Charter School 10th-grader who wrote this piece for a class speech project. She plays violin in the Garden Spot High School orchestra.rusch

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