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Pigging out

Animal-rights activists go to the Oklahoma Pork Congress to decry how pigs are treated in the state’s farms.

Phil Bacharach March 16th, 2012

A 10-foot inflatable caged pig and a handful of protesters greeted participants today at the annual Oklahoma Pork Congress outside the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City.

mercy for animals phil letten 27mhPhil Letten of Mercy for Animals - Mark Hancock

Mercy for Animals, a national nonprofit dedicated to preventing cruelty to farm animals, has taken issue with how the swine are housed in Oklahoma pig farms.

“The pork industry's secret ingredient is egregious animal abuse,” said Phil Letten, national campaign coordinator for the Los Angeles-based Mercy for Animals.

He said pigs are kept in “filthy, crowded conditions,” packed into tiny stalls where they cannot move.

Letten said that practice has been banned by the entire European Union, as well as states such as Florida, California, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado.

“It is high time that Oklahoma pork producers realize it is out of step with most Americans' basic values to confine mother pigs inside stalls so small that the animal is virtually immobilized their entire life,” he said.

But Roy Lee Lindsey, Oklahoma Pork Council executive director, said that the key issue to ensure proper care isn't housing, but humans.

“Some of those [housing operations] involve stalls, some involve group-penning, but what we find is that the most important process in how we care for our animals is the individual who provides the care,” he said. “The housing system is secondary. Paramount to us, every day when we get up, is taking care of our animals. We are completely dependent on those animals to provide for us, and in order to do that, we must provide for them.”

Letten disputes that claim.

“Not a single federal law provides protection of pigs, but they're every bit as capable of experiencing pain and suffering as the dogs and cats so many of us know and love,” he said. “If pork producers treated dogs and cats to the array of animal abuses they inflict on pigs, they would be arrested and jailed on grounds of animal cruelty.”

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03.17.2012 at 07:26 Reply
Mr. Lindsey's notion that folks in these confinement operations "care" about the pigs is rather dumbfounding given the numerous undercover videos that have surfaced over the years showing what treatment is metted out to the unfortunate pigs. Humans torture and abuse other humans as a matter of government policy and with the tacit approval of the public...does Mr. Lindsey expect us to believe profit driven prisons for pigs behave more honorably? His motive is money, the motive of Mercy For Animals is the alleviation of suffering...the reader can decide who is motivated to lie, twist and distort.


03.17.2012 at 09:10 Reply

Credit goes to Phil Bacharach and the OK Gazette for reporting this story. The inhumane way that animals are treated on factory farms is something that would disturb most people if they knew about it, but factory farms are trying to keep it hidden. Nice work.


03.20.2012 at 06:21 Reply

Everyone should watch a documentary called Earthlings.  While not all about the Pork industry, it does touch on this.  In general it shows man's inhumanity to all of animalkind.  It's a real eye opener, when you're not too busy sobbing uncontrollably.



04.25.2012 at 05:01 Reply

Here's to hoping Oklahoma follows the lead of the more forward-thinking, humane states of Florida, Oregon, Colorado and California. I'm a proud vegan after watching Earthlings and witnessing the extreme cruelties animals endure just because we're accustomed to eating them. PS. I'm so glad to see Oklahoman men willing to voice their aversion to animal cruelty as it pertains to farmed animals.