A bill to regulate puppy mills in North Carolina was recently killed—not just by dog breeders, but by hog breeders who opposed the legislation simply because it was backed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). According to a N.C. Pork Council lobbyist, the pork producers were worried about HSUS gaining ground in the state and pressured officials to deep-six the bill.
As an ensuing News Observer editorial pointed out, it isn’t all that likely that a state that “still hasn’t shaken off the smelly, pollution-prone lagoon and sprayfield system of dealing with industrial-scale hog waste” would suddenly enact tough pork production rules just because a bill to give puppies a modicum of protection passed. But the pork industry obviously recognizes—and fears—the power of animal rights organizations—and the growing public shift away from practices that harm animals.
But by helping to kill Senate Bill 460, the Pork Council not only killed puppies’ chances for some meager protection, it also killed its own PR claims to care about animal welfare. How does the pork board expect people to believe that it’s serious about improving the animal welfare standards in its own industry when it kills attempts to improve the welfare standards in another?
For years, pork producers have been promising to phase out gestation crates and improve transport and slaughter methods, but despite their encouraging-sounding assurances, conditions on most pig farms are as pitiful as ever. Officials even filed cruelty-to-animals charges against workers at a North Carolina pig-breeding facility owned by Murphy Family Ventures—a company that supplies pigs to Smithfield Foods, the largest pig-killing corporation in the world—after a PETA investigator went undercover at the facility.
Most pig farmers detest PETA even more than they hate the HSUS. I suppose PETA should now expect the Pork Council to try to squelch its efforts to regulate dog meat farms in China simply out of spite and fear. After all, the pork industry has proven that it’s incapable of compassion for hogs or dogs, or for anyone who tries to help them. At least one positive thing has come from the N.C. Pork Council’s heartless action—and the ensuing News Observer exposé and editorial: More people’s eyes were opened and a number of them wrote letters to the paper to express their outrage and disgust with the pork industry. Those who said they planned to stop eating pig flesh particularly had the right idea!
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