Demand that Critter Visits and Timberwind Farms STOP 'Renting Out' Nonhuman Animals!

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⦁ 'Duckling Fostering', 'Chick-hatching', and 'Hen Rental' programs expoit nonhuman animals, treating them as commodities to be bought and sold for profit

⦁ Public Health safety warnings regarding infectious diseases as well as bylaw recommendations are ignored, putting people, especially children and seniors at risk. 

⦁ The safety of the birds cannot be ensured.

⦁ In most cases, the birds are killed once they are no longer profitable. This realization is upsetting for children and seniors who have become emotionally attached to the individuals.

Two Ontario companies, Critter Visits and Timberwind Farm rent out baby ducklings, chicks, rabbits (and other nonhuman animals) to seniors homes, schools, libraries, churches, and families to provide 'entertainment' and a 'learning experience'. Critter Visits refers to their program as a “fostering” opportunity, however what they offer has nothing to do with fostering. A true foster program involves people taking in, and caring for animals, until they are adopted into a forever home. The person doing the fostering does not pay a fee to do this. In fact, the rescue organization pays all fees, from vet bills to food. Critter Visits manipulates people into believing they are doing something good for these animals, and charges them money to do it. Timberwind offers 'hatching' programs and rents out hens to families who want 'fresh' eggs.

There are many reasons why these programs are not only unjust but also potentially dangerous. Public health dangers like e-coli and salmonella (see attachment below), are significant, especially for children and seniors - Since provincial industry recommendations regarding biosecurity are ignored by Critter Visits and Timberwind Farm, as are by-law regulations around keeping ducks and chickens in certain jurisdictions, the public are taking health risks that they might not be aware of, especially during a global pandemic.

The farm associated with Critter Visits, Woolley Wonderland Farm, owned by Karen Woolley, breeds ducks and chickens and rents out unborn or days old babies. To rent a pair of ducklings for a week from Critter Visits, it costs $140.00. Timberwind Farm charges $250.00 for 12 fertile eggs for a minimum of 5 weeks. To rent hens and full grown ducks for their eggs, they charge $550.00 a pair for 6 months. You then have the option of buying them outright at the end of the term for another $250.00.  The safety of the animals is not ensured.

So what happens at the end of the rental period? According to the Spring 2020 FAQs from Critter visits regarding what happens to ducklings upon return: "They may live out their life on another farm or possibly be a choice meal for a restaurant or a special dinner at a wedding supper. We cannot determine the final purpose of each duck". They have since changed their response to this question by not answering it honestly and assuring everyone that they themselves 'don't eat duck'. At Timberwind the chicks are returned to be rented out as 'egg layers'. When rented out for six months as a 'layer': "The rental is returned to our farm where the hens stay for the winter and are rented out again the following year. We keep our hens for at least 3 years at which point egg production drops significantly and they are sold for soup hens". The reason their 'production' drops off significantly after 3 years is because they have been 'bred' to lay more eggs than they ever would in nature. Once 'spent' and no longer profitable they are sold for slaughter. Basically these companies profit off of the animals at least twice - first while they are growing big enough to be slaughtered or rented out again, and in the case of Timberwind's hens, as many times as possible before their bodies are worn out!

Most people enter into these arrangements innocently. Staff and residents at one nursing home were shocked and saddened when they heard what happens to the ducklings when returned to Critter Visits. And they're not alone. Many families who had rented ducklings from Critter Visits to entertain their children during the pandemic, chose to not return them to the farm, once they realized their fate. Their children became attached to the animals, gave them names, and otherwise recognized that they are individuals with their own interests. These families took them to safe sanctuaries.  Critter Visits charged $15 per bird (the approximate price they would get to sell them, for slaughter) for not returning them. Once the story broke, through this CBC news story, that families were being affected emotionally and taking ducklings to sanctuaries to save them , Karen Woolley changed her policy and insisted that all ducklings had to be returned after the rental period. Rescuing the ducklings and saving their lives was no longer an option.

These companies are presently gearing up for Easter, hoping to rent out bunnies as well as chicks and ducklings. Parents, teachers, and recreation staff at seniors homes all go into these schemes to engage and enrich the lives of children and seniors. They do not consider the social justice implications of using nonhumans in this way. No matter what happens to these animals after the rental period, or how well they are cared for during the rental period, the 'experiences' of humans should never come at the expense of the exploitation of innocent animals. Nonhuman animals are not 'property' to be 'used' for entertainment, education, or for any other purpose.  There are many other ways to engage and learn.

I urge you to not participate in the Critter Visits “Fostering” Program, Timberwind’s "rental" schemes or any other activity that exploits nonhuman animals.