[Please note: Includes graphic descriptions of animal abuse.]
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Time and again, The HSUS’s undercover investigators have exposed appalling abuses of animals―at animal fighting pits, at puppy mills, at slaughter plants, and, with unnerving frequency, at industrialized factory farms. Our investigators have seen it all, or so we thought. The investigation we announced today―conducted at Wyoming Premium Farms, a supplier to the meat industry giant Tyson Foods―is a case of sickening and blatant cruelty. It cannot be excused and should not go unpunished either by law enforcement, by regulators, or by the food retailers, including Tyson, that do business with this factory farm―to say nothing of the company’s management, which ought to feel shame and revulsion.
At this gestation crate confinement facility (see video), workers punched and kicked mother pigs. They kicked piglets like soccer balls, whipped them around by their hind legs, smashed them into concrete floors, and threw them high into the air. A few even threw piglets’ testicles at each other and fed them back to the mother pigs for “fun.” The people who engaged in this behavior should be prosecuted, and the callousness they exhibited should be a matter of serious concern to everyone, not the least of all their co-workers, neighbors, and family members.
Pregnant pigs with rectal and uterine prolapses were refused proper treatment. Pigs died in their gestation crates and were left there for days. One dead pig was half-buried in grain from an automatic feeder. One dying pig, barely even able to move, was desperately trying to inch her way to water, and the only hydration she received came as an act of mercy from our investigator. There were other cases of sadism and cruelty that I’ll leave unsaid here.
Why does it take The HSUS to expose this cruelty? Where are the company executives who run this factory farm? Where are the responsible leaders in this industry? Are they actually paying the least bit of attention to how their employees are behaving or what’s happening to the animals in their facilities? This is one major problem with the movement away from family farms to industrialized factory farms—the owners are nowhere to be found, and often a bunch of poorly paid, untrained, desensitized, and violent people are watching over the animals—with horrid consequences.
Just yesterday, Safeway—the nation’s second-largest grocery chain—announced that it will work to eliminate these gestation crates from its supply chain. And since February, other major food companies like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Compass Group have made similar announcements. This series of decisions should be a signal to the pork industry that there’s a crisis in conscience not just among members of the public, but among leading food retailers.
How about the images that we are transmitting today? Why would Tyson Foods buy from a wretched place like this? And where is the National Pork Producers Council, the trade association for the industry? How many cases of extreme cruelty must we uncover before the industry acknowledges that there’s something rotten at some considerable number of industrial pig farms throughout the nation?
And what about the NPPC's frequently trumpeted Pork Quality Assurance Program? The pork industry says self-regulation is working and there is no need for new humane standards, but time and again our investigators are uncovering unspeakable cruelty in a broken system. Rather than spend its time and resources trying to thwart legislation in Congress backed by The HSUS and the egg industry to improve the treatment of laying hens, the NPPC should clearly turn its attention to cleaning up the problems in its own industry.
In fact, I can’t think of a single time when the pig industry called out one of its own. Instead, the leaders in the industry spend their money and their political capital defending extreme confinement. They even oppose efforts by other industries, notably the egg industry, to create national standards to improve the treatment of laying hens. They and their political allies seek to suppress the activities that reveal and document such cruelties by every means necessary, including ag-gag bills in our state legislatures. How can they show such disdain for animals, even though they make their livelihoods from them?
What kind of people are they, and are they so arrogant as to think that the drumbeat of exposés, as well as the routine images of extreme confinement, will go unnoticed by the American public?