Dyed chicks on sale in Vidalia GA, 4.20.2011
VIDALIA, Ga. -- To properly celebrate Easter, Tracy Gunn has decided he needs to buy a chick for his 17-year-old daughter.
"I don't know what she's going to do with it," Gunn said as he made the purchase.
The bird is one week old, dyed pink, and came out of a cage filled with chicks the same age and dyed pink, green and yellow.
They're in a cage we spotted alongside a highway leading into Vidalia, outside of a feed and seed store called the Vidalia Farm Center. Alongside the cage full of chicks, there are additional cages -- with mature rabbits, and baby rabbits one month old.
"The bunnies sell real good for Easter. We've been selling a lot of them about the last month. Can't keep enough of them," said Tim Williford of the Vidalia Farm Center.
The sale of chicks and rabbits for Easter is a practice that's declined over the last decade, says Carla Brown. She runs a German Shepherd rescue and is also a State Court judge in Gwinnett County. It's declined, she says, for good reason.
"It trivializes the animal itself. And it makes it a toy," said Brown. "It's not a toy. It's livestock. And it it's going to be alive a month from now, two months from now, a year from now."
Brown says artificially coloring chicks is illegal in 36 states, but not Georgia. She says it turns the animal into a holiday novelty, like an ornament. Caged rabbits, she says, frequently end up fending for themselves in a hostile outdoor environment.
"They buy (rabbits) for their kids for Easter, then they take Easter pictures and stuff like that with them," said Williford. "I'm not sure about" what happens to them afterward, he said.
It's a mostly discredited practice that still lingers this Easter holiday -- in an area where some traditions aren't easy to shake.