Factory farms are baking pigs alive during the pandemic. Veterinarians call for changing guidance on this barbaric killing method

By on December 16, 2020 with 20 Comments

As a result of slaughterhouse closures during the pandemic, some producers have used a cruel method called “ventilation shutdown,” or VSD, to kill whole herds of pigs.

Ventilator shutdown involves locking a flock or herd of animals in a building and turning off the ventilation systems. As the temperature rises and gases inside the building accumulate, the animals suffocate to death, usually over a period of many hours.

In an even more extreme form, referred to as VSD-plus, heat, steam and/or gas are injected into the building, baking the animals alive.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a trade association for the veterinary profession, classifies VSD as “permitted in constrained circumstances” for pigs and chickens, such as situations of acute urgency involving an animal disease outbreak.

Unfortunately, during the pandemic, this guidance has been misinterpreted by pig producers to cut costs. Meanwhile the AVMA, instead of clarifying its guidelines or revising them to make sure they are not misapplied, has remained silent.

Today, more than 2,900 veterinary professionals and advocates, including 1,445 veterinarians (830 of whom are AVMA members), sent a petition to the AVMA asking the organization to take a stand against VSD. The petition, which is backed by leading veterinary and animal protection organizations, including the ASPCA, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and Veterinarians Against Ventilation Shutdown, urges AVMA to reclassify VSD in all its forms as “not recommended,” making it clear that this inhumane practice is not acceptable in virtually any circumstance.

“Veterinarians and the AVMA have the responsibility to ensure that animals designated for depopulation experience a rapid loss of consciousness or loss of brain function under the prevailing conditions, and that they are handled in a humane manner before and during their depopulation,” the petition states.

“Even under the rare and dire circumstances that animals must be destroyed, veterinarians must be clear that protecting animal welfare cannot be compromised for convenience,” said Dr. Gail Hansen, DVM, MPH, the HSVMA veterinary representative who submitted the petition today on behalf of the group.

“Ventilation shutdown is an incredibly barbaric response to challenges resulting from COVID-related disruptions, and we condemn any attempts to use cruelty as a pathway to cost-efficiency and convenience,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO. “We stand with thousands of veterinary professionals calling on the AVMA to make clear that inflicting pain and suffering on these animals is unacceptable, especially when more humane methods are both recommended and available.”

Most professionals in the veterinary and animal protection arena do not condone VSD because it does not cause immediate loss of consciousness, which makes it inhumane. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) — an intergovernmental body responsible for improving animal health worldwide — does not recognize ventilation shutdown in any form, even for emergency disease control.

The AVMA’s silence on this issue is deafening; we urge the organization to listen to the voices of veterinarians, including its own members. Animals raised in factory farms face nothing but misery from the day they are born or hatched until the day they are killed. They are often confined in small, barren cages where they can barely move. Chickens at the slaughterhouse have their necks slit open with a slicing blade, many while still conscious. No animal deserves to live in such acute misery, and they definitely do not deserve a death that, if anything, is even worse. The meat industry has a responsibility to ensure that operators do not place convenience and cost above the most basic standards of animal welfare. Revised guidance from the AVMA would go a long way in helping move them in that direction.

Farm Animals

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    esto tiene que acabar no podemos permitir que más animalitos sigan sufriendo así es muy cruel y violento no es posible que gente así esté trabajando en los mataderos y que nadie haga nada por favor esto tiene que acabar

  2. Elisabeth de Ruiter says:

    How cruel and shameful-a-stain on the human race to treat our fellow animal companions. This cruelty is beyond comprehension.

    • Orla says:

      There are no consequences, that’s the saddest part. They never mattered to anyone, their suffering means nothing.

  3. Bronwyn Mastrangelo says:

    This is absolutely the cruelest and the most heartless action by a human. This needs to stop. All creatures on earth deserve to be treated better than this
    Just think about what is going on here The worst ever

  4. Susan Heron- Brown says:

    How cruel and heartless can humans become.
    All animals feel the same pain as humans and these things people do are just so very heartless. Have they not heard of the pandemic coming from such cruelty towards animals?

  5. SUNNI BUQUET says:

    This practice is not only inhumane, but BARBARIC! There is NO EXCUSE for it & should cease IMMEDIATELY!

  6. Jeane Camargo da Silva says:

    Que triste saber de mais uma crueldade praticada pelos “humanos” contra seres inocentes. Fico a pensar se realmente não seria melhor se esse vírus pudesse extinguir a raça humana da Terra. Só assim os animais poderiam viver e morrer em paz.

  7. Janet Bell says:

    This cruelty has to stop!

  8. Ellen Strom says:

    I agree the animals welfare and care is more important. We take care of our farm crops, take care of our farm animals

  9. Candice Elyse Paulus says:

    Absolute living horror! This is horrendous.

  10. Courtney Watson says:

    Disgusting. So irritating that this goes on. Can’t wait for progress on non animal foods!

  11. Renee Doan says:

    These people are very heartless, twisted, barberic & demented to put these beautiful pigs through this frightening, horrific pain of death!!! This is so wrong on all levels!! Must be stopped asap! Thank you!

  12. donna ann watkins says:

    what is wrong with people to do something this cruel to a living being and act like its ok. Breaks my heart to think of it. God help us.

  13. Alexa Lynne says:

    All animals need to be treated humanely at all times. Cameras should be in every room at every slaughterhouse and monitored, giving jobs to monitor cameras and to physically go there to make sure they are complying, mandatorily paid by the slaughterhouses. We are so un-evolved!!!

  14. Arlene taclay says:

    Stop all the slaughter of all animals now if it were us how would we feel we would feel terrible think about that,please stop the murder & abuse of all animals

  15. Courtney Kiernan says:

    Is there a petition for non-veterinarians to sign that we can submit to the AVMA to show them that the public doesn’t support this barbaric practice?

  16. Corinne Lynch says:

    What kind of people are involved in such inhumane, barbaric acts? It has to be people with no soul, no conscience, no regard for life. These poor animals live a life of never experiencing anything natural and their end is this. Why? Because it’s easy, it’s cost effective.
    There needs to be strict regulations against all abuse and all mistreatment, and new laws should be passed to protect these animals.
    If more people knew what really goes on, the owners and workers of these factory farms would be shunned for their disgusting ways.

  17. Lisa says:

    Sad animals’ lives mean nothing in comparison to money. How human beings who have intelligence and ability, can do such horrific things to dependent helpless living beings is disgusting.

  18. Natalie says:

    We will never have a civilized society while it’s still legal to treat animals this way. We are all responsible – from the lawmakers who have been swayed by lobbyists to consumers who don’t want to face where their meat comes from. There will always be those who will do anything at any cost for money – it’s our job to stop them.

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