Written by PETA
Picture this: You're cruising down the highway when you catch a glimpse of a truck in your rearview mirror. Your eyes focus on the white bits of feathers or maybe the pink skin visible through the openings in the side, and suddenly you're no longer in a good mood.
We've all seen those transport trucks whiz by us with little regard for the safety of the animals jostled about inside, often struggling to stay on their feet on the slippery floors. It's horrible enough that these animals are headed for the slaughterhouse, but many people don't realize that millions of animals each year die when they are trampled or succumb to untreated illnesses before they even reach that awful destination.
The Vancouver Sun deserves a hundred thousand well-deserved props for running an excellent front-page article about animal transport fatalities. According to the article, "up to three million farm animals are found dead each year" inside transport trucks when they arrive at Canadian slaughterhouses. And there's more: "more than 11 million farm animals are declared unfit for human consumption after arriving diseased or injured …." And that's just in Canada—the issue is just as serious in the U.S. These animals are just more senseless victims of animal agriculture, but to the industry, their purposeless deaths are simply another cost of doing business.
The numbers are heartbreaking, but they're no surprise when you factor in the abuse these animals face: Workers routinely poke pigs with electric prods and beat them—sometimes on the snout with baseball bats, breaking their noses. Birds are often thrown into the holding space, resulting in broken bones and wings. Animals are piled on top of each other with no room to turn around, and no food or water is given to them during transport. The sheer number of animals crammed into the cargo containers can cause some to suffocate, especially in the heat. During the summer months, temperatures inside the metal fixtures are sweltering, and during the winter months, the animals have almost no protection from the wind, ice, and snow. Many pigs actually freeze to the sides of the trucks in winter.
Truck drivers can be reckless and absentminded, putting both the animals and humans in danger. Transport truck accidents like this one are common. If an animal is lucky, he or she might escape injury and be able to flee and avoid the slaughterhouse forever, but most are not so fortunate. These accidents are horrifying for animals who are injured—often they are simply reloaded onto another truck to continue the journey to the slaughterhouse.
Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky
Every visit to New York City causes me to reflect upon the misery that befalls those poor old racetrack castoffs, Amish cart-pullers, and other worn-down horses who end up between the shafts of a heavy carriage, pulling loads of tourists—and some uncaring driver—through the dirty, noisy streets of New York City in all weather. Seeing them out there in the winter is particularly upsetting: A few weeks back, I saw one horse still lumbering along in traffic, head down, at 9:30 p.m.
Even when they aren't working, horses need lots of water, yet the "carriage" horses' water troughs are often bone dry. People report seeing the horses standing there, unbending in their traces and unseeing in their blinders, unable to take a drop of water. And, when, late at night, they finally end up at their "stables"—which are actually decrepit fire-trap walk-ups—they cannot even take their weight off their aching feet: The "stalls" are boxes or bars that fit just around their bodies, like sow stalls on factory farms.
Oh, there's so much more that stinks for these poor horses, including the traffic accidents that spook, hurt, and kill them. (I've seen a driver, obviously anxious to go home to his comfortable house, whip and race his horse, chariot-style, pounding along the road; this must have added to the horse's pain.) PETA and local concerned citizens are working hard to make this business go away. We want to see it switch to something humane—perhaps to a new, environmentally friendly tourist vehicle that doesn't bleed, ache, and die. It may take another year of hard work, but what can we do in the meantime, other than tell people never to ride in the carriages?
Perhaps you'd like to contact the ASPCA—which is charged with enforcing the anti-cruelty code and regulations on horse-drawn carriages—with your thoughts and questions. Please share with us the answers you receive. The horses can't ask why someone doesn't order their owners to allow them to lie down at night, for example, but we can. And, in my opinion, local law enforcement can compel the owners to let them.
Written by Ingrid Newkirk
OK, if you're like me, you cancel all your plans, shut off your cell phone, lock your door, and glue yourself to your couch every Thursday at 9 p.m. for none other than the greatest hour of television all week: Grey's Anatomy.
Well, last night was probably my favorite television night of all time, because the best show ever also brought in an important message about animal rights. (TV + AR = my life, so you can see why I was thrilled.)
If you missed it, let me catch you up. Dr. Hunt, the new head of trauma surgery, wanted to train the residents and interns on how to deal with trauma patients, and he said that dealing with live tissue was the best way to learn. So he tied down six sedated pigs and stabbed them with knives, and then he asked the doctors to perform surgery to keep the pigs alive. (Though I'm quite sure that in real life the pigs were fake, as the show had several notices that no animals were harmed in filming.)
Enter Dr. Izzy Stevens, played by Katherine Heigl. Izzy refused to do the assignment and explained how completely unnecessary it is to test on live animals when we have such advanced alternatives that don't require us to do that. She said that animals are sensitive, emotional creatures that feel pain and don't deserve to be tortured. We are so right there with you, Izzy!
When Dr. Hunt continued to berate Izzy about this issue, she stood up for herself and for animals everywhere and never backed down. She even explained that testing on animals is pointless and can sometimes even work against medical progress. Even though a test might be successful when the subjects are animals, people and animals are different species and therefore will show completely different results.
Even no-nonsense, steely Dr. Yang took a liking to the pigs and called them by name. When the surgeries finished, Hunt ordered Yang to euthanize the pigs and she refused.
What an excellent episode! I was so thrilled to step away from Meredith's whiny, self-obsessed life for a while to focus on the other characters—and such a positive message for animals.
Now, if only Ross University had seen this episode ….
Written by Christine Doré
Happy Halloween, animal lovers! I hope you all took our costume advice this year. I'm planning to see tons of Trollsens and Colonels wandering the streets tonight in search of fab vegan candy. Before your teeth begin to ache from too much sugar and your costume gets retired for another year, check out the best holiday e-card that Halloween has to offer. Enjoy!
There's a great editorial titled "PETA's Undercover Agents Deserve a Pat on the Back" in the Post-Bulletin that's well worth reading. We don't generally just push people over to another site, but when something is good it's good—so we'll let someone else do the writing this time.
Check out the editorial here.
Written by Joel Bartlett
It's with a proud and ecstatic heart that I report this news today! Our investigation into an Iowa pig farm that breeds piglets destined for Hormel has resulted in 22—that's right, count them—22 criminal charges.
The Greene County Sheriff just announced in a news release that six individuals employed by the farm at the time of PETA's investigation now face a total of 22 counts of livestock neglect and abuse. Those charged include a former farm manager—who we understand still works on another pig factory farm—and a supervisor, as well as two individuals who still punch the clock at the Iowa factory farm as we speak.
A whopping 14 of the counts are aggravated misdemeanors—the stiffest possible charges under Iowa state law for crimes committed against farmed animals—carrying up to two years behind bars. To PETA's knowledge, this is unprecedented.
Charges based on PETA's undercover investigations are now pending against pig factory farmers in both Iowa—the nation's top pig-raising state—and North Carolina, which occupies the second rung on that dubious list!
This is a small victory for farmed animals, but we mustn't forget that Hormel, which financially supports this farm, has by all appearances yet to make any changes as a result of this investigation. It has refused to meet with us or even watch all of the footage, which we have repeatedly offered to show the company. Maybe now that the law has spoken up, Hormel will finally listen.
Please, urge Hormel to take action now.
One month ago, we released shocking footage from an undercover investigation of a factory farm in Iowa that raises pigs who are destined for Hormel. The public was rightly outraged by the horrific findings of PETA's investigators, who found that workers repeatedly hit pigs with metal gate rods and canes, a worker slammed the heads of piglet "runts" into the floor, and a supervisor shoved a cane into a sow's vagina and talked about sexually abusing pigs.
Even after the farm changed ownership and management during the investigation, this disgusting treatment and abuse of animals continued.
That being said, we have just released previously unseen footage from the investigation, apparently showing the farm manager kicking and shocking a pig. Unbelievably, he is still the manager of the farm!
In the video, the farm manager is seen shocking a pig with an electric prod and kicking her—both in apparent violation of the farm owner's own written policy—in a prolonged attempt to make her stand, which is a requirement for pigs who are sold for slaughter. The suffering sow, who was unable to stand due to crippled hind limbs, was left in the pen for two days, bleeding from a severed hoof, until she was ultimately shot and killed.
This shocking footage of the farm manager was recorded the very next working day after PETA's undercover investigator reported to the farm manager the abuse that he had documented at the farm.
We are seething mad that the farm manager retains his position as farm manager and has been allowed to continue to supervise other employees and their treatment of pigs. It is painfully obvious to us that all factory farms—as long as they exist—must be managed by individuals who are competent in humane handling of animals and who can lead by example. We'll let you determine whether he fits the bill.
We stand firm in our demand that Hormel take action against these abuses, despite the company's continued failure to respond to our attempts to work with it. Join us in renewing our pressure on Hormel. Demand that the company enact meaningful reforms to prevent this sort of abuse from occurring on its suppliers' farms.
Update: We wanted to make sure that it's clear to our readers that we offered several times to show Hormel and the farm's management ALL the footage that was taken during PETA's undercover investigation at the supplier's farm—including the above footage of the manager. Neither Hormel nor the farm's management took us up on our offer.
Last month, PETA broke the news about barbaric U.S. Army trauma training exercises that were being conducted at a base camp in Hawaii, in which pigs were shot with high-powered rifles. Local Army officials there are standing by their false claims that these exercises are necessary to provide soldiers with the skill to treat trauma victims on the battlefield, even though it seems to us these exercises broke Army regulations by not using available alternatives to the primitive use of animals.
I guess we can sleep well knowing that if a soldier loses his tail during a raid, some well-trained fellow soldiers, thanks to this training, may be able to reattach the necessary posterior appendage.
Given the U.S. Army's apparent outright disregard for their own regulations and the treatment of these animals, PETA is now asking commanding officers at bases in Hawaii and Texas—where a more recent training exercise included breaking and amputating the legs of nearly 1,000 goats with tree trimmers—for a court martial over the shooting, mutilating, and killing of animals during these old-fashioned training exercises.
According to the Army's own regulations, the Army is required to use alternatives to animals in training exercises when scientifically valid and comparable alternatives exist. And they do! The animal exercise should have been replaced with validated, state-of-the-art simulators, such as the Department of Defense's own Combat Trauma Patient Simulator, which more realistically simulates battlefield conditions and, consequently, is considered superior to outdated animal methods. Other viable alternatives include Dr. Emad Aboud's "living" cadaver perfusion model, Simulab Corporation's TraumaMan system, and establishing military level one trauma centers in nearby communities in order to have trainees work with the community to take care of their city's population.
Kathy Guillermo, director of PETA's Laboratory Investigations Department, says, "The Army has regulations in place specifically to prevent this kind of cruelty to animals, but the oversight committee apparently chose to ignore them. Our soldiers deserve to be trained using the most advanced technology available—that means using human simulators."
The U.S. Army does not train soldiers to race into battle zones to retrieve injured pigs, goats, or dogs. That would be great, but let's face it: It's not the government's main agenda. Time, money, and resources could be far better spent.
Well, that's what I thought when I first saw this news story: "Hogs Gone Wild, 50 team [sic] compete in Eldorado Picnic hog wrestling contest." Surely, I thought, the wrestlers wore pig costumes or something. They didn't actually wrestle with pigs …
But no—there were, in fact, 50 teams of people, all clamoring to wrestle a pig. The goal? To grab a frightened pig and force him onto a padded barrel in less than a minute.
Eldorado's fire chief, who is either PR-savvy or oblivious, says—in the words of the article—that the hogs "are kept cool and treated with utmost respect." But the astute writer of the article observed, "Not buying that for a minute, the hogs huddled together drawing deep furrows in the muck with their snouts. They glared, squinted-eyed, each time a squealing comrade was herded away." I certainly fail to see how terrorizing pigs qualifies as "respect"—just look at the first picture in the photo gallery. Look at the expression on the pig's face—does he look respected or terrified?
This isn't the first time that misguided people have used animal wrestling as a fundraiser. In fact, the Brooks Hill Community Fair in West Virginia—which was just this past weekend—had planned to hold a greased pig race until PETA told them how cruel it would be. The race was subsequently canceled—a victory for PETA and pigs and a show of decency from Brooks Hill! The Delta Fair and Music Fest in Tennessee is another event that decided not to hold their pig-wrestling competition. Good for them.
Of course, if anyone's wondering what the Eldorado Lions and Fireman's Community Picnic might do next year to raise money in a cruelty-free way … might I suggest tofu wrestling instead? We'll even provide the tofu.
Posted by Amanda Schinke
Do you know the saying "Don't steal—the government hates competition"? I was reminded of it recently when news broke that the U.S. Army is shooting live pigs in an open range with high-power rifles at a training camp in Hawaii. The Army says it's teaching combat medics how to treat battlefield injuries, but here's the thing: The Army is required—by its own regulations—to use alternatives to animals in any kind of experimentation or training when scientifically valid and comparable alternatives exist. And guess what? Those alternatives exist.
My colleague Shalin Gala rattles off these humane alternatives like nobody's business: the Combat Trauma Patient Simulation System, Simulab Corporation's TraumaMan system (insert superhero figure with a T on his chest), partnering with trauma centers for real-life experience, and Dr. Emad Aboud's "living" cadaver perfusion model. Shalin also tells me that he regularly receives calls from whistleblowers in the Army and the Navy telling him about the use of pigs, goats, and monkeys for trauma training and chemical casualty training—all in apparent violation of regulations.
Kathy Guillermo, the director of PETA's Laboratory Investigations Department, had this to say: "In order to effectively save our soldiers' lives, Army medics should be trained with human trauma patients and advanced simulators that mimic human responses. Shooting and maiming pigs is as outdated as Civil War rifles."
I agree, but I'm kind of stuck on the fact that the horror of the Army's pig shooting in Hawaii goes way beyond just that. Readers of The PETA Files are well aware that you don't have to be Einstein to get your head around the few paltry regulations intended to protect animals in laboratories, but even so, violations of these regulations are rampant. A recent audit noted that nearly a third of U.S. laboratories are failing to search for alternatives. Is it any wonder when the government—charged with ensuring that laboratories comply with the law—doesn't seem to have its own house in order?
Posted by Grace Friedan
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.