By Susan Bird (Care2)
At a hog farm in Oklahoma, pigs were being tortured. There’s no other word for it.
A Mercy for Animals investigator spent three weeks undercover at West Coast Farm in Okfuskee County, Okla., from mid-September to mid-October 2013. The brutality he documented during this brief period is appalling and heart wrenching.
An undercover camera caught the following during a period of less than one month:
- Workers slamming conscious piglets headfirst against the ground and spiking them like footballs
- Piglets having their tails hacked off and their testicles ripped out of their bodies without painkillers
- Workers viciously punching, kicking, beating and violently shaking animals and pulling out their hair
- Pregnant pigs confined to tiny, maggot-infested gestation crates barely able to move
- Workers shoving fingers into pigs’ eyes
- Workers hitting pigs with wooden boards
- Injured piglets tossed, still alive, onto “dead piles” and left to die without proper veterinary care
- A worker throwing a heavy bowling ball at a pig’s head
Hard to believe? Watch this incredible undercover footage from Mercy for Animals. It’s all there. Be warned: it’s graphic and disturbing. You may not want to watch it, but you should:
Those of you still eating pork, can you view this video and still want that ham sandwich? Is bacon really so tasty that it’s worth this horrific price?
For those who believe this kind of abuse must be limited to only a handful of facilities, think again. Mercy for Animals founder Nathan Runkle recently told Harper’s Magazine: ”We have never found a facility where there wasn’t abuse. Finding it is not the issue. Our challenge is just to have a camera there when it happens.”
This is Why We Must Fight “Ag Gag“ Laws, State by State
The factory farm industry despises the public furor caused each time videos like this one go viral. Inevitably, revealing the horrors faced by factory farmed animals costs them money and customers. Almost certainly, with every such video, many people finally decide it’s time to stop eating meat and dairy entirely. Many more boycott the companies in question.
It’s not hard to understand, therefore, why Big Agriculture is so driven and single-minded in its support of state “ag gag” laws. Such laws make it a crime to reveal animal abuses by secretly investigating farmed animal facilities and documenting their practices.
Imagine that — in so many places it’s not a crime to abuse farmed animals but it’s a crime to secretly (or even overtly) videotape or photograph it. Whistleblowers are usually protected, not prosecuted. How did America’s values become so irretrievably skewed?
To have a hope of righting these wrongs, the public must be able to see what’s going on. “Ag gag” laws keep you from knowing what factory farms want to keep well hidden.
These Abuses “Violate Every Principle of Humane Animal Handling”
The pork industry is rushing to distance itself from this incident. The National Pork Producers Council issued a statement in which it said, “NPPC and America’s hog farmers do not condone and, in fact, strongly condemn practices that are not in accord with U.S. pork industry best practices.”
A panel convened by the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) reviews animal abuse allegations like the ones in this video. The panelists reviewed the Mercy for Animals footage and agreed that abuse unquestionably occurred.
“These behaviors violate every principle of humane animal handling and go against everything the swine industry advocates for providing decent quality care for animals,” according to CFI panel member Dr. Candace Croney of Purdue University. See a number of additional expert opinions gathered by Mercy for Animals here.
“There’s abuse and egregious misbehavior by employees in their handling of the animals in this video,” said panel member Dr. John Deen of the University of Minnesota. “What is especially concerning is that it appears to be a culture rather than being able to attribute the behavior to individuals.”
What’s a little saddening is that Deen also said this: “[T]his video also shows common and acceptable production practices that are not pleasant to see but there are valid reasons for using them on the farm.”
This is, perhaps, a reference to the gestation crates in the video. Gestation crates are those incredibly confined spaces in which female pigs spend most, if not all of their lives, churning out piglets so America can satisfy its mania for bacon. In human terms, it’s like living in an airplane seat or a phone booth — for your whole life.
Pigs: The Smartest Animal You‘re Still Eating
Pigs are intelligent, friendly, social beings. They’ve been shown over and over again to be smarter than any other domestic animal. As champion problem solvers, animal experts say pigs are infinitely more trainable than dogs or cats.
Pigs are smart and aware, and yet we confine them, mistreat them, slaughter them and eat them. It’s the very definition of evil. Future generations will rightly condemn us for it.
At the time this video was shot, West Coast Farm supplied pork to Tyson Foods and Walmart. In the wake of angry public reaction, Tyson Foods has hurriedly dropped this supplier. Walmart, however, has not.
Walmart, what’s wrong with you? Four times now, undercover investigation revealed horrific cruelties at the factory farms that supply your stores, yet you do nothing. In particular, you’ve kept a blind eye turned toward the outmoded use of pig gestation crates.
Walmart remains (forgive us) pigheaded about this issue. Over 60 major food suppliers, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Papa John’s, Arby’s, Chipotle, Wendy’s, Kroger, Whole Foods, Safeway, Kmart, Target and Costco have decided to eliminate pork suppliers which still use gestation crates. Why won’t Walmart do the same?
Care2 readers, if you want to tell Walmart to stop sourcing its pork from suppliers that still use cruel gestation crates, sign this petition. We’ll deliver it to Walmart’s CEO, Mike Duke, so he’ll know exactly how you feel about this issue.