Sadly, millions of animals who are too sick, weak or injured to stand, known as “downers,” are forced to make their way into the slaughterhouse by any means necessary.
While there has been a victory for cattle with the USDA’s adoption of a regulatory ban on sending downer cows to slaughter for human consumption, that still leaves pigs, sheep, goats and other livestock at the mercy of those who see nothing but dollar signs.
Farm Sanctuary is currently working to urge Obama to extend legal protections to all farm animals with their No Downers Campaign.
“The abuse of living, breathing, feeling pigs who are too sick, injured and weak to stand is incongruent with our values of mercy and compassion,” said Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur. “We urge President Obama to make good on his pledge to be mindful of animal cruelty by demanding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extend legal protections to downed pigs and all farm animals.”
Not only is abuse of this nature completely unacceptable, but allowing sick animals into the food supply is also putting people at risk. According to Farm Sanctuary, “Slaughterhouse records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that USDA has approved meat from downed animals suffering from numerous conditions, including gangrene, hepatitis, malignant lymphoma, and pneumonia.”
No one seems to have an accurate number for how many downed animals are slaughtered for food each year. In 1999 the American Association of Bovine Practitioners estimated 195,000 cattle. Other estimates for pigs were between 100,000 to over 900,000, while there are no numbers regarding how many sheep, goats or horses there are.