Dragged, beaten, pushed with forklifts and shocked with electric prods — these are the routine methods used by workers to get pigs and other farm animals too sick, injured or weak to walk on their own onto slaughterhouse kill floors, and the reason Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, is petitioning President Barak Obama to put an end to this abuse by issuing regulations to prevent these animals — called “downers” — from entering the food supply.
In addition to the pain and suffering inflicted upon the animals, the petition asserts the health of the American people is put at risk every time one of these debilitated animals enters the food supply. Science has shown that downed animals — victims of factory farm stresses and irresponsible transportation methods — are at an increased risk for disease, as their hides can become contaminated during the hours or days they are often left to suffer, laying on the ground, without food, water or veterinary care.
“The abuse of living, breathing, feeling pigs who are too sick, injured and weak to stand is incongruent with our values of mercy and compassion,” said Farm Sanctuary President and Co-founder Gene Baur. “We urge President Obama to make good on his pledge to be mindful of animal cruelty by demanding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extend legal protections to downed pigs and all farm animals.”
Since 1986, Farm Sanctuary has made great strides for suffering animals through the No Downers Campaign, including the first ever U.S. downed animal protection laws and the first successful conviction of a stockyard for downed animal cruelty. Most recently, the organization’s work led to President Barack Obama’s announcement of a new USDA rule that bans the slaughter of cattle who become downed at any time for human consumption. While acknowledged as being a step in the right direction, the group remains determined to win legal protections for downed pigs and all other farm animals.
More than seven years ago Congress told the USDA to issue regulations to prevent the abuse of downed pigs and other animals, but the agency has failed to comply. As a result, downer pigs — an estimated 100,000 to more than 900,000 a year — continue to be subjected to intolerable cruelty.