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