About 195 live pigs were hurled to the ground—killing or leaving at least 47 so badly injured that even industry workers knew that they had to be killed—after a slaughterhouse-bound transport truck ran off the road, flipped onto its side, and crashed into a pole in Suffolk, Virginia, early this morning. This crash, which happened on a clear day on a relatively straight road, is at least the ninth accident involving pigs who were being transported to a Smithfield Foods slaughterhouse in southeastern Virginia since 2004.
The pork industry’s shameful history of hiring reckless drivers has left the mangled remains of countless pigs on Virginia highways and jeopardized the safety of other motorists. The driver cited for reckless driving in this crash, William Orville Barnett, allegedly violated federal transportation safety laws twice last year. Also last year, a driver hauling 80 pigs for Smithfield Foods subsidiary Murphy-Brown, LLC, crashed in Chesterfield County, Virginia, killing more than 45 of the pigs. The driver—who was charged with reckless driving and failure to maintain control—had three months earlier crashed a truck in North Carolina while hauling 46 cows. Virginia court records indicate that the driver had been previously cited for failure to obey a traffic signal and speeding. In spite of all this, Murphy-Brown put him behind the wheel to drive pigs hundreds of miles across the country.
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Despite the pork industry’s attempts to hide the aftermath of these horrific crashes by putting up tarps and even asking police officers to make PETA investigators in public areas put away their cameras, PETA has captured extensive video footage of workers as they abuse, cruelly kill, and leave injured pigs to suffer after wrecks. Only three years ago—on the very road on which today’s crash occurred—workers pulled terrified 270-pound animals by their sensitive ears and slapped and hit them in the face with tools that even the pork industry says should never be used to hit animals. PETA has also documented that workers at crash sites reloaded debilitated and severely injured pigs—including those whose internal organs were protruding from their anuses—for transport and left immobile pigs to suffer and be trampled for hours before repeatedly driving steel bolts into their skulls in botched attempts to kill them.
The pork industry desperately needs to enact and enforce a zero-tolerance safe-driver policy—for everyone’s sake—but the best way to protect pigs and other animals from suffering in accidents as well as on factory farms and in slaughterhouses is by leaving them off our plates.