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An Open Letter to the Citizens of Iowa

Written by PETA | June 19, 2008

An open letter to the citizens of Iowa:

It’s too late to save the poor pigs who were killed after they escaped a flooded southeastern Iowa farm after being left to drown, swam several miles through raging floodwaters, and scrambled atop a sandbag levee, where sheriff’s officials shot them for fear that they would weaken it, but as citizens of Iowa, you can all do something in solidarity to save other clever, charismatic pigs: Go vegetarian.

Millions of pigs are hung upside-down, scalded, and bled to death, often while they’re still conscious, in slaughterhouses every year. Pigs feel pain every bit as much as we do, are horrified at the sight and smells of the slaughterhouse, and are afraid to die. Like us, they fight for their lives and struggle to avoid suffering.

There is no reason for any pigs to die such tragic, violent deaths—ever. Tasty, healthy, and humane mock meats—including Tofurky sweet Italian sausages, Morningstar Farms veggie dogs, Yves Veggie Cuisine’s Canadian veggie bacon and deli slices, and other faux-pork products—are available in many supermarkets and health-food stores.

By choosing vegetarian foods instead of animal flesh, each one of us can save more than 100 animals every year. See for more information, and click here to get a free “Vegetarian Starter Kit.”

Sincerely,PETA Posted by Christine Dore

Commenting is closed.
  • D says:

    I live in Iowa as well. I was sandbagging all day to help save people’s lives not pigs. Unfortunately the pigs swam to safety on a levee that very well could have broken and made all of southeast Iowa into the Mississippi. Their was no way to get the pigs out…no way. Pigs weigh 500 pounds you can not pick up pigs with a boat and bring them to safety. I love animals but I also value human life if the levee would have broken thousands could have died. It should be mentioned that in this area over 50000 pigs were rescued.

  • Nicole says:

    Ok honestly everyone needs to give this story a rest. Yes it was horrible what happened but I don’t think you realize that it was between the pigs’ lives and the lives of the citizens. No one expected the water to rise so quickly or challenge the levies so when it happened they had to move fast and could not afford to spare any time. I’m from Iowa not to far from where this happened and I could have never lived with the situation if I knew people lost their lives because others were more concerned with the pigs. People from around here and turning against PETA in mass numbers because we’re in the middle of an emergency and you’re focusing on this we’re sick of it we know it wasn’t handled the best it’s too late to change the past we don’t need lectures and almost no farmers around here are going to go vegetarian because of it.

  • June says:

    Derek and Erin “Numerous things can cause a levee to fail say experts The wrong material may have been used a channel could have been created by a rotting log or the foundation may fail due to unstable ground. Even putting sandbags atop a levee to increase its height as dozens of riverside communities are doing this week can weaken a levee as people and bags add strain and create weak spots. Once a levee has been overtopped breaching is fairly common as the rushing water washes away the backside.” Yeah I’m the real idiot aren’t I? You may think you’re an expert on physics but a knowledge of physics doesn’t equate to common sense now does it? People were on the sandbags risking their lives to save land and lives. Not because it was safe. But wait I’m the idiot. The experts are wrong. There is no way that the pigs could have destabilized the levee especially since many of them were already dangerously close to going. And don’t worry Erin given the choice between you and a pig I’m sure I’d chose the more intelligent compassionate and thoughtful pig as well. Hate seething losers like YOU are the reason that people like animals more than people. Apparently your love of animals makes you a saint who has the right to judge people who have just been through the worst weeks of their lives. I hope that when tragedy strikes you you receive more compassion and understanding than you are obviously capable of giving.

  • Erin says:

    Hi Brad I too have survived a few devastations several hurricanes and one tornado though my homes didn’t make it in either case I am sorry that you feel these intelligent pigs should have been killed. Seems to me these pigs are so mart they could have been easily lured into a large boat or craft. And June I still maintain the pigs were smarter than you. And given a choice of you or the pigs on the roof guess who I would choose.

  • Holly says:

    I am proud of the people who worked hard to save their town and their homes and their pets and animals they could. The pigs are a sad story. Get transported out away from the rising waters and live a little longer. Swim with the current of the raceing water and get shot. here is the deal these poor pigs are destined to died and that is the real problem. die in water or with a bullet in your head or at the slaughter house. Death will come to these poor pigs… Please Go VegetarianVegan save 100 farm animals a year per person! Go Vegan… Save all the farm animals.

  • RitaC says:

    Cari Hopson are you kidding me? HUMANS take things too far and end up hurting animals… i think that the greasy piece of bacon you ate just messed up your head…

  • Ritz says:

    Kurt I just wonder of it were dogs would you have the same disregard?

  • Cari says:

    MicheleWell said. I totally agree with you. Oakville was in a desperate situation and the townspeople should be commended for their valiant work. Instead of running for their lives they fought to save their town. The outcome was totally unexpected. And I do think the efforts that have been made to save the animals currently taking place should be commended as well. The pig rescue was quite an undertaking and this was a locall businessman from Iowa who volunteered to do it. I do not like people referring to us Iowans as dumb country hicks who could care less about animals. I would like to see these detractors actually care about human beings and their plight in this.

  • debi says:

    there were 4500 hogs that were left down there the paper said 1000 but there were 4500 total

  • Kurt K says:

    Can you people ever just let a situation go! There are people losing everything they own and some have lost their lives! 15 pigs? I can’t believe you actually have a gripe about this one! Think for once people!

  • Michele says:

    PETA where were you when the farmers needed haulers to save the hogs? Where were you when hundreds of people were sandbagging to save the farms? Where were you when farmers were comforted by friends after seeing ALL THEY HAD flooded out beyond recognition? You have no room to comment on any of the actions of the people in Oakville or the surrounding area. You weren’t there when they needed you. HOgs can replaced humans can’t. I care about all the animals that were lost domestic and wild but this is a major catastrophe. Out of 3600 hogs in Oakville only 1000 were not able to be hauled out. I think the people that were hauling fast and furiously should be commended and thanked. I am grateful and thankful that no human lives were lost. Instead of whining about the way in which a few hogs had their life ended we should be praising the way this community came together and helped each other in a drastic time of need without help from PETA

  • debi says:

    there were two farmers that had hogs the one tried to save as many as they could and literally jumped on a truck for high ground and is very upset about it the other just left them there he is the one i have the problem with.

  • Debi says:

    I live five miles from the levee that they are trying to save and know more that most should. These people DID have time to get out and time to save the animals. I do know insurance has a lot to do with these poor animals lives. Since i heard about the hogs i have been worried sick about them and the National Guard is keeping people away otherwise believe me i would’ve saved as many as i could. My good friend did take his boat in and saved 33 hogs as of yesterday Thursday June 19. I do agree that they should’ve saved the hogs on the levees. I heard they tried to approach them and the hogs would jump back in the river scared of the officers. but yeah why couldn’t they have roped them or something. We are not hicks nor rednecks we love animals here. But this farmer did abandom the animals and i hope he gets what he deserves. This is just so sad it just breaks my heart. People here are very stressed losing their homes but please please take your animals to safety.

  • Cari Hopson says:

    PETA makes me sick. I too am from Iowa now living in North Carolina and comments from you ignorant people have really upset me. I love pigs and was so upset to hear about this happening but my heart is absolutely breaking for the people of Oakville who have lost everything. Have any of you seen the videos of their houses floating down the river? The Town is completely gone along with several others. Iowans are not dumb country people and they deserve your respect and assistance as much as anyone in New Orleans did. These people pulled together and sandbagged for days to save their towns and the inhabitants many of them working up until the last minute and putting their lives in danger. Do I need to remind you that more than 15 people died in these floods adn storms! Do you even care about them? Oh and how many of you live on a 500 year floodplain and yet don’t evacuate immediately after a big stormquite a few I would imagine. Or do any of you have the sense to understand that? Please read the story about a local businessman who saved over 20 pigs stranded in Oakville or the article about the pig rescue in Burlington Iowa my hometown. And now PETA wants this farmer sued. From what I understand he broke the rules and released the pigs to at least fend for themselves rather than drowning in their pens. The man has lost everything he owns and you want to sue him because he couldn’t get his pigs evacuated in time? Get a grip. I used to be a proud supporter of PETA but never again. You take things too far and end up hurting humans. Put yourself in their places or get your butt out there and help out rather than sitting in your offices spouting off about animal rights.

  • Dusty says:

    Oakville had 36000 hogs and days prior to the flooding 35000 hogs were moved out of this town. What do you have to say about that rescue effort? And for all of you stating “These pigs are so intelligent and therefore swam for miles searching for higher ground…” Have you ever heard of a current? Obviously it’s animal instinct to cling to higher ground even the rats are doing this. This particular levee is still in critical condition. This levee could break at any time. Officials had to keep the few unfortunate 250 lb hogs off of this levee in order to prevent a possible break in the levee which would cause over 350 homes to be flooded and thousands of agricultural land to be destroyed. If it was that simple to just walk onto the levee leash the hogs and walk them to safety then this rescue would have been performed. Unfortunately this was not possible. Do you really think that our professionals would shoot hogs just to shoot them? Give me a break. This is Iowa we are the last state on the map that would want to shoot hogs. For all of you praying for the remaining hogs please keep in mind that there are people feeding the live hogs and trying their best to rescue them. Do your homework people. With a little research you would’ve been informed that the Sheriff’s Office Lt and other concerned citizens saved one hog and brought it to safety. This hog was not at the levee area therefore a rescue was performed and this lucky hog was plucked out of the Mississippi. It doesn’t stop there deputies also saved seven horses and a donkey from Burlington IA floodwaters. The officials and citizens in this area are not “hicks” and the majority of us are animal lovers. If you think what happened to 15 hogs is sad and depressing then just think of the thousands of Iowans who lost everything they had.

  • Derek says:

    Scroll down on this link as there are pictures of a soldier and some volunteers sitting on the same levee as the pigs…I doubt anyone considered shooting them. http64.233.167.104search?qcaches0GMKpcZqcJwww.sacbee.com827story1021049.html+kingtston+ia+leveehlenctclnkcd10glus June when you have something intelligent to post or can point out “anything about anything” I will be happy to destroy your arguments. As I am in the Iowa City area I have little time to read up on the specifics of which levee broke first in regards to Oakville or Kingston but I doubt there is little in this world to which you have a greater understaning than I…except perhaps ignorance.

  • June says:

    Derek If they ever post my first comment you’ll understand that I DO understand and that you are the one who is clueless. The oakville Levy is not the Levy they were trying to protect. It had already broken which is why the pigs were in the water. The Levee they were trying to protect was NOT stable. They had stabilized it and were doing everything in their power to protect it. And if YOU knew anything about anything you would know that even the slightest distruption of the levee could have caused it to go.

  • Cyndi says:

    although this letter tells these people about vegetarian foods i have moved to NC recently and am a vegetarian and I can tell you no letter nothing will make these country people ever stop eating meat they are ignorant and will never understand the fact that food animals suffer. Most are uneducated and ignorant it sucks but that is the truth.

  • Nikki says:

    While I understand that everyone is upset about the livestock that were killed I think someone needs to take a look at the big picture. We have had a major disaster. Thousands of acres that grow your produce were lost as were the homes of the people that grew it. When those pigs swam to those levees the local authorities and farmers tried to contain them and get them off the levees but they retreated back in to the water. When they were on the levees running from the people that were trying to save them their hooves were ripping the sandbags weakening the levees that were protecting thousands of lives. Are you so smallminded that you value the lives of pigs over those of humans. I agree that it is a tragedy that the are dead but I don’t think that it is fair to punish people for doing what they thought was for the greater good and persecute them after they have already lost everything.

  • LORI says:

    I don’t believe that you people who have critisized the handling of the animals in the flood could possibly grasp the magnitude of a levee breaking and losing everything you own. For one thing there were not enough semis who can ever GET to the farm animals to transport them out of the area. The highways were closed for the safety of humans. Do you think that the farmers wanted to lose their farmland and livestock? You have no idea the farmers who were out sandbagging day and night and trying to save human lives and property including the livestock. If you don’t live here as I do don’t speak about things you don’t know about.

  • Derek says:

    June If you had any understanding of physics you would know that those individual pigs had very little chance of destabilizing the levee with packed earth on one side and water on the other side. As it turns out all the fuss Mayor Lippert and the police made over justifying the shootings were moot points as the flooding in Oakville happened anyway although I have not heard news about the levee in Kingston giving way. People were kept off the levees in order to keep them away from the danger of the water although if hundreds walked on the levee then that could have destabilized the structure. I live in Iowa and I feel sorry for anyone that was affected by the floods especially if they did not make preparations and relied solely on the levees for protection of their property and lives. This is a disaster but we’ve been watching it come at us for a couple weeks. My issue is with the way Mayor Lippert dismissed the lifes of the pigs with so little consideration he cares only about pigs by how they taste pork chops and bacon…I wonder how he would feel knowing that worms care little about his mortal existance either and are merely waiting to turn him into compost.

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    “Redneck?” “Hillbilly?” Being an educated sophisticated urban dweller from either coast has given you license to be racist and bigoted. The pigs are a tragedy floods typically bring tragedy. The pigs were most certainly smarter than the bigots who posted those comments. I hope your superiority complex gives you a rash.

  • June says:

    Again if you all knew what you were talking about you would realize that they were keeping people off the sandbags because you were to stand on them the levee would give way. That’s why they killed them…they were taking it down by climbing it. duh.

  • June says:

    And FYI the pigs weren’t “left to drown”. The levee in Oakville broke and people had to run for their lives literally. The water came very fast. They had no time to get ANYTHING out. The whole town is gone. Any idea how many cats and dogs died when the levee broke across the bridge in gulfport? It’s called a NATIONAL DISASTER People and animals died. Get a life PETA.

  • Evanlily says:

    An antianimal rights person asked why I liked animals more than people. I said I care about both one doesn’t have to be exclusive of another. But abused animals are voiceless defenseless so I must speak out in their defense. This sheriff a redneck pig killer is an example of why I do like animals better lately. Animals are pure mine have loved been loyal to me unconditionally. The antirights guy on the forum ranted how animal rights people are ‘Peta nuts’ bla bla. We have dominion over animals to use and abuse. I stopped responding because he’s hopeless. I am more aware of cruelty humans are capable of since news of Michael Vick’s involvement in dog fighting. After 8 Belles’ death racing abuses were exposed I was unaware of. The video of the Iraq Marine throwing a puppy over a cliff sickened me. Now the bumpkin Sheriff who shot pigs that struggled for life were almost safe! What a pathetic excuse for animal cruelty they wouldn’t have destroyed the levee! To rid the world of destructive abusive subhumans who bring nothing of worth is better than having their brutality continue. I wouldn’t lose sleep if all animal abusers were wiped off the face of the planet.

  • Lisa says:

    I went to the website of Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency in which Mr. Lippert is the chair and this is what their mission says The Mission of the Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency is to… train educate coordinate and assist in the activities relating to diaster preparedness response recovery mitigation and develop a partnership with all citizens visitors employers and emergency response agencies in order to provide for the safety and prosperity of property the environment and all living beings within Des Moines County and the surrounding area. Are pigs not part of the all living beings part? They aren’t if the cops shoot them I guess.

  • Brad says:

    I live in an area directly affected by this hopefully once in a lifetime flooding. The devestation is simply beyond description without seeing it firsthand. Hundreds of square miles of land has been flooded. Entire towns have been destroyed peoples lives changed forever. It will take years to get back to normal. The levee that the pigs were trying to get on protected about 5060 square miles and 200+ homes. Pigs can be tremendously destructive and even a few could easily compromise the integrity of this levee. I believe the Emergency Management Sheriff’s Office and levee commision acted correctly. Sorry folks but when you’re talking about people’s lives volunteers working on the levee and livelyhoods the decision seems pretty easy to me.

  • yvonne says:

    another dastardly act form human beings harming animals AGAIN.. and you wonder why this is such a mess of a planet.. when imbeciles like these wield the power over the weak and defenceless.. hate himthem.. no respect or regard for life.. and no these pigs weren’t IN a slaughterhouse. they were afraid and fearful from the floods and had luckily scambled to safety.. plucky as they were.. before the twolegged ones wielding shot guns came over that is..

  • Derek says:

    Here is another gem from Mayor LeRoy Lippert “I’m only 75 years old and I’ve already lived through two of them two 500year floods so I don’t know. Maybe I’m 1075 I don’t know how old I am.” Perhaps he picked up a prion or two eating meat as it sounds like he is losing his mind…his 1075 year old mind.

  • Beth says:

    Simple minded hillbillies with a gun tragic end for these poor helpless creatures. SHAME on the sheriff’s officials!!!

  • Diane says:

    Last night I saw the pictures of the poor pigs on top of their flooded building and read the story and I was thinking and praying for them all night.. Then I get up this morning to read their “luck ran out” and they were shot. I am so upset over this unnecessary heartless act by these people. Am I wrong or is there not fairly DRY LAND on the other side of these sandbags? They probably could of lured them with food since I am sure they were very hungry. And the slaughterhouse comments.. God give me strength! Bless the innocent souls from the horrible barbaric acts of insensitive uncompassionateunfeeling human beings. May they rest in peace..

  • Jama Young says:

    This saddens me….I saw pictures of them atop of a shed and hoped that someone would find a way to save them Now to know that they swam for their lives such a long ways only to be shot by local authorities breaks my heart.

  • Canaduck says:

    Ugh that is so disgusting!!!

  • Derek says:

    Slightly off topic but since Lippert spouted off about ribs and pork chops I thought I would plug my new favorite food Gardenburger’s Riblets. I seriously could eat one of those every day without worrying about my conscience or about biting into bone or gristle as I did in my prevegetatrian McRib days. I know this is one of my most useless posts but I love these things and I think most if not all meateaters would be hard pressed to realize these were vegan. Save the pigs!

  • liliana says:

    The bad humans wants the power and for that reason they kill the inocents but God knows what to do with every person that do this kind of cruelty against animals

  • Brian says:

    These brave and smart pigs wanted to live in a world that demanded their death. The conditions atop the levee were dangerous no doubt but for the first time in their life they felt the warmth of sunshine and the cool breeze. Common decency tells you to rescue the pigs and curse the police who shot them. But rescue would have meant immediate confinement and eventual death. A tragic story in so many ways.

  • Lorraine says:

    sigh Yup I read about this in this morning’s newspaper. While I am sure most people will merely skim over the simpleminded reasoning behind the killing of all those pigs it appeared the pigs were not very large as slaughterhouse pigs would “normally” be…so why couldn’t a few ablebodied people just get themselves over to the sandbag piles grab a pig and bring it to solid ground? Surely there could have been a more humane way of handling the wholesale murder of those innocent and so smart! pigs! It’s a tad silly to say so but those little creatures fought the flood waters so hard to stay alive then they found a place to get away from the raging waters and were promptly shot after all that heroic effort! Sometimes I really get kind of perturbed with human beings who shoot to kill animals first think later.

  • Tairyn says:

    This story made me sick to my stomach when i read it on this morning…the people quoted sound so ridiculous…I immediately forwarded it PETA files…

  • keith says:

    Fu k g brain dead cops resort to the gun as usual.

  • Chris says:

    When I read this story this AM it literally brought me to tears. How could they not have thought to help these poor animals!? I already eat vegetarian but I will make it my goal to inform others about this tradgedy so that they can hopefully make more informed decisions in the future. I just hope those poor pigs are at peace now. So sad. So unfortunate.

  • Mary says:

    This story made me feel physically sick. If a human being had swam for their lives and reached safety they would be applauded and branded hero’s. Driving home today a lorry passed carrying dozens of sheep all crammed up against the sides. I cried and I am crying once again. God help the suffering innocents.

  • Shelby F says:

    I can’t believe it! Yet another animal shot for swimming to safety. I hope those losers who shot the pigs drown in a toliet!

  • Holly says:

    Christine you are so very right. Thank You So Very Much for Posting this information… It is just awful that these smart pigs saved them selves just to be shot! Shame on those police men! Shame on them… Pigs do suffer unthinkable pain and fear at the farms during transport and worst of all at the slaughter houses It is true go vegetarianvegan and save up to 100 animals lives per year per person! I have a friend who saw a pig slaughtered by scalding 36 years ago she had never heard the word vegetarian she was 17 years old and to this date she has not eatten meat as a result of what she saw and heard that day…it was awful! Eskay meats say they use every part of the pig but the oink I say lets hear that oink and stop the suffering! Send letters Smithfield httpwww.smithfield.comaboutasksmithfield.php …let them know you hate what the do to the animals! PLEASE GO VEGETARIANVEGAN Lets all work hard to save these innocent animals from great fear pain and suffering! Please Go Vegan… save the animals…

  • Carla says:

    How Appalling!! And to Mr. LeRoy Lippert I’m sorry what you allowed to happen to those pigs IS morally wrong!! Reminds me of what happened to the polar bear from the artic they’re just looking for solid ground like you or I they’re not aquatic!!

  • Brian Johnson says:

    The deputy sheriff who shot these pigs should be fired. I am baffled by this comment The carcasses were left at the site and treated essentially as road kill Lippert said. “You don’t get them out of the mud and over the dike when you’re worried about people and people’s property” he said. He had time to kill the pigs but not time to move them from the sandbags? I would assume just the sound of a gunshot would be enough to scatter the pigs. Maybe I am wrong but weren’t there other options? This is just another of example of how our law enforcement officers feel they are “above the law”.

  • r says:

    Yes i read the story imagine you saved your life just to have a redneck with a gun shoot you. I guess fighting for your life and surviving in mans eye if your an animal is not as IMPORTANT AS a human life. no matter the struggle you went through to SURVIVE. I am appalled how in the midst of this tradegy theres still room for inhumanity when it comes to mans attitude toward any other living being. I wonder what their last thought was when they were taking their last breath. Hmmm

  • Monika says:

    How absolutely heart breaking. It melted my heart when I saw the pigs ontop of roof tops climbing to safety I thought it just proves how full of life these innocent animals are. And now to read that some were shot? I understand being scared the walls will fall But atleast relocate the poor things. It’s absolutely disgusting.

  • Derek says:

    This following statement really hits a nerve “It happens every day. My gosh that’s what slaughterhouses do that’s how we get bacon and pork chops” Lippert said. “It’s just one of the casualties of the flooding situation.” This guy the chairman of the county emergency management commission sounds a like a complete idiot. It is this very disregard for life that is far too prevelant among meateaters. I live in Iowa so have witnessed and feel for those affected by the flooding and I also understand why officials did not want to take a chance at destabilizing the levee. I am mostly dumbfounded by the chairman’s crass shallow andinsert derogatory adjective comments in regards to the killings of the pigs. I would hope that he doesn’t have the money to bribe his way back onto the commission but am sure he is being hailed as a hero because the levees in that town held although it is doubtful that a few holes in the bags of sand at the top of the levee would have made a difference.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    If nothing else it’s obvious that pigs value their lives as much as we value ours.

  • Stephen says:

    I was sickened when I read the news story. The only positive thing I could think of is that they were the lucky ones who will never see the horrors of the inside of a slaughterhouse.