Florence Deaths Prompt Plea to Meat Producers: Open the Barn Doors!

PETA Calls for Pigs, Chickens, and Cows Exposed to Future Storms to Be Given a Fighting Chance to Escape Horrific Deaths

For Immediate Release:
September 25, 2018

Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

Hurricane Florence’s flooding has already reportedly killed more than 5,500 pigs and 3.4 million chickens and turkeys in North Carolina, all of whom were trapped inside massive factory farm sheds that were expected to flood. Scenes of floating and bloated animal bodies are a horror story that didn’t have to happen, as PETA points out in an open letter today calling on meat industry leaders to take note of weather emergencies and “be merciful and open the barn doors.”

In the letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—points out that in addition to the threat of drowning, pigs and other animals left behind in the floods face potentially suffocating to death if the power fails and the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide generated by their manure can’t be ventilated.

“These animals should have been evacuated long before Florence made landfall, but meat producers could still have given them a fighting chance if they’d simply let them out,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling for the barn doors to be opened in the event that the animals inside will certainly perish and for everyone to take personal responsibility for these pigs’ plight by keeping animals off their plates.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s open letter to the meat industry follows.

September 25, 2018

Dear Animal Farmers,

Nine months ago, as wildfires ravaged Southern California, stable doors were thrown open for hundreds of horses in San Diego County in order to give them a chance to escape the flames. That lesson was apparently lost on meat producers who left millions of animals in warehouses to die horrifically by drowning in floodwaters brought by Hurricane Florence. We can only imagine the terror that these individuals must have felt as they looked at each other and realized that there was no way out.

Florence’s catastrophic flooding has killed more than 5,500 pigs and 3.4 million chickens and turkeys so far in North Carolina alone, and those numbers are expected to increase as the flooding continues. The lives of hundreds of millions more animals are at stake, so PETA is calling on farmers to be merciful and open the barn doors to give these animals at least a fighting chance while there’s still time.

Farmed animals have been left entombed in factory farm sheds in the path of deadly storms before. Hurricane Florence’s farmed animal death toll is already more than double that of Hurricane Matthew—2,800 pigs and nearly 2 million birds died two years ago after being abandoned to its violent storms and rising waters. Hurricane Floyd also killed millions of animals in 1999. Some bodies were washed into the ocean, and others were burned to prevent the spread of disease. Drowning isn’t the only threat that pigs face: If power is lost and barns can’t be ventilated, they can suffocate from the ammonia and hydrogen sulfide generated by their manure.

Trapped animals should’ve at least been given a fighting chance to flee before Florence made landfall and the floodwaters started rising. And consider this option: Your operations could now make the switch to growing humane, healthy, environmentally friendly vegan foods, a move that could’ve prevented not only the deaths of millions of animals but also the looming secondary crisis of pollution from overflowing manure lagoons. We realize that this would be a major change, but with all that’s known about the suffering endured by animals used for food, the environmental impact of meat production, and the health issues caused by eating meat, the time is ripe for taking that leap.


Tracy Reiman
Executive Vice President

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