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Dyeing eggs for Easter is a tradition. But dyeing baby chicks?

According to The New York Times, the practice of colouring live chicks with brilliant green, pink and purple dyes has been a seasonal custom in certain parts of the U.S. for generations, as people give them away as Easter gifts.

Unsurprisingly, many take issue with dyeing the birds, arguing that it encourages people to think of them as dispensable playthings.

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"Humane societies are overflowing with these animals after Easter every year," Don Anthony of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida told the Times.

The process involves either injecting dye into eggs while they're incubating or spraying the hatchlings. Poultry experts say colouring the birds is not harmful, as long as the dye is non-toxic. The colour disappears after a few weeks as chicks shed their fluff and grow feathers.

As it becomes increasingly frowned upon, however, the practice has gone underground, the Times reports. It notes about half the states and certain municipalities have laws against it. Several poultry farmers contacted by the newspaper said they no longer do it.

But in Florida, a long-time ban on dyeing animals was overturned last month, after a dog groomer requested that it be lifted. The move has been met with outcry.

"This law has protected thousands of animals from neglect and abuse, and it shouldn't be lifted on the whim of one dog groomer who wants to dye poodles purple," Mr. Anthony told the Times.

According to Sympatico.ca, the issue has pitted animal rights activists, who argue dyeing animals is cruel, against pet owners who see it as a trendy and fun part of pet grooming.

Should dyeing animals be allowed? What do you think?

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