This Is the Price Pigs Are Paying for Pork
This week another undercover investigation has brought to light horrific cruelty to pigs at the hands of the nation’s fourth largest pork producer, raising more concerns about the trouble with standard industry practices and the ongoing and systemic abuse found within the industry.
The footage was taken by an investigator for Last Chance for Animals (LCA) over a period of four months this spring at a Christensen Farms facility in Minnesota where thousands of mother pigs are confined to gestation crates for their entire lives.
In addition to the cruelty involved in keeping pigs in cages so small they can’t even ever move, workers were seen gassing terrified piglets, violently handling downers who were too sick or hurt to walk on their own by hitting, kicking, stabbing and dragging them, along with leaving sick pigs with serious illnesses and injuries to suffer for weeks and slowly die with no intervention, among other serious abuses.
According to LCA, after the investigation was complete, they submitted a criminal complaint to the Rock County Sheriff’s Office detailing 18 incidents of animal cruelty, 17 incidents of animal mistreatment by neglect and one incident of animal mistreatment by deprivation.
“By causing the deaths of these pigs through its pattern of neglect, Christensen Farms is just as culpable as someone letting their dog starve to death in their backyard,” said Adam Wilson, director of investigations for LCA. “Animals on factory farms are not exempt from Minnesota’s animal cruelty laws. It’s now up to Rock County prosecutors to ensure that such obvious animal cruelty is not tolerated.”
While law enforcement has initiated an investigation, Christensen Farms has since made the obligatory statement feigning surprise that its animal welfare policies have been violated and expressing disappointment over the actions of a few bad workers.
“We were disappointed to learn of alleged violations of our animal welfare policies at one of our facilities,” Christensen Farms CEO Glenn Stolt said. “At Christensen Farms, we take the health and welfare of our animals very seriously. It is our responsibility and we owe it to our packer customers and consumers to provide uncompromising care to our animals. There is no place in this industry for individuals who mistreat animals.”
So far, Christensen Farms has launched an internal investigation of its own and has suspended seven workers, but the suffering seen here isn’t just about trouble at one farm or with a few people with no empathy or patience; it’s about the cruelty that’s inherent in animal agriculture and the treatment of sentient animals who are suffering immensely as a result of our desire for animal products.
It’s also about calling out the management for doing nothing to stop ongoing abuse. In a statement, Bernard E. Rollin, University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Animal Sciences and Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University said the managers are just as guilty as the workers for allowing suffering to continue and any legal action brought in this case should include supervisory personnel who allowed it to go on.
While the cruelty seen here heartbreaking by itself, it’s even more offensive because this isn’t the first time an undercover investigation has exposed trouble at Christensen Farms. A previous investigation conducted by Mercy for Animals in 2012 also brought to light serious abuse and ignited a campaign calling on Walmart to stop using it as a supplier.
Stolt says there’s no place in the industry for individuals who mistreat animals, but really it’s that there should be no place for an industry that mistreats them.
If you’re not down for watching these heart-wrenching videos, there are plenty of other precious ones — from adorable piglets playing to the trials and tribulations Esther the Wonder Pig faces in her daily life as a beloved member of her family — that serve as reminders that pigs and other farm animals are individuals whose lives matter to them and they are counting on us to change.
For more info and updates on this case, visit Last Chance for Animals.
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