No pork barrel for D.C. pigs

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1998:

Hanor Farms, one of the fastestgrowing
pork producers in the U.S.,
brought some of the realities of factory
farming to Washington, D.C.,
on October 1 when a trucker working
for an independent company
inexplicably left a load of 172 fivemonth-old
pigs on a city street.
The trucker was arrested
later in the day in connection with a
separate incident, and will reportedly
be charged for leaving the pigs.

En route from the Hanor
Farms operation in North Carolina,
the pigs were to have gone to a
Pennsylvania slaughterhouse.
Already on the triple-tiered truck for
five hours, the pigs sweltered, without
water or food, until evening.
“Hours later,” recalled
Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney
Laura Nelson, “local residents
notified the police, who contacted
the Washington Humane Society.
Shortly after midnight, the rig was
towed to the Poplar Spring Animal
Sanctuary” in Poolesville, Maryland.
“A veterinarian and a hastily
summoned crew of volunteers
worked for hours in the dark to
unload the distressed animals.”
The most experienced pig
handler was Dale Riffle, cofounder
of The Pig Sanctuary in Charles
Town, West Virginia.
“When I opened the door
to each tier on the truck,” Riffle
said, “the pigs would panic. They
were terrified of people they met on
the truck. But on the ground, they
weren’t afraid of people any more.
One pig began convulsing when she
came off, like having an earthquake
inside of her due to stress. Someone
wanted the vet to euthanize her.
Susie Coston, who works at The Pig
Sancutary, was with us. I sent her
to lie next to the pig, to prevent anyone
from euthanizing her. Susie lay
next to that pig for hours, and the
next day the pig was fine. But
another pig from the third tier was
the first creature I’ve ever seen who
literally died from fear. She was
convulsing the same way, and
didn’t calm down.”
The pigs on the third tier
were unloaded last, about 24 hours
after they were put aboard, because
the volunteers had to build a sturdy
ramp to get them down.
“One pig on the third tier
had been trampled, and was left
when all the other pigs were off,”
Riffle remembered. “One of his
front legs was broken, and one of
his rear legs was like a bag of
crushed eggshells. Instead of being
afraid, he had a look I will never
forget, like it hurt so bad, and
please help him. I sat there and put
his head in my lap to keep it out of
the poop, and he died right there.”
Five pigs in all either died
at the scene or were found dead.
Riffle, Poplar Spring volunteer
Ann Cottrell Free, and others
at the scene asked ANIMAL PEOPLE
to emphasize that the plight of
these pigs was not unique: 95 million
pigs per year in the U.S. are
hauled to slaughter in similar trucks.
Two days later, said
Nelson, “Hanor sent its operations
manager to the Poplar Spring sanctuary
to reclaim the pigs, accompanied
by several carloads of Maryland
police and a Washington D.C.
lawyer. They initially threatened
criminal prosecution for theft if the
sanctuary did not surrender the
pigs.” Nelson, however, “negotiated
an agreement whereby the corporation
transferred title to the pigs to
the Poplar Spring sanctuary in
exchange for the sanctuary waiving
its claim for compensation for care
provided to the animals.”
The arrival of the pigs
increased the number of mouths to
feed at the 400-acre Poplar Spring
sanctuary nearly tenfold. Just a few
years old, the sanctuary was begun
by former National Zoo veterinary
technician Teresa Cumming and her
husband Dave Hoerauf.
With volunteer help, Free
said, they “erected two prefabricated
wooden barns, since their barns
were already full,” to hold the pigs
until other sanctuaries were able to
accept them. The Pig Sanctuary
took the three with the worst injuries
right away, and took 100 more upon
acquiring a 54-acre former dairy
farm which is to become the new Pig
Sanctuary headquarters. Another 40
pigs went to Farm Sanctuary, in
Watkins Glen, New York.
Meanwhile, recounted
Free, “The pigs adapted quickly to
being outdoors, rooting in the earth,
eating grass, hay, and fresh vegetables,
fraternizing, and wallowing in
a nearby stream.”
Hanor Farms had just
12,000 sows at one North Carolina
location five years ago. It expanded
to 35,000 sows within another year,
then formed branches in Illinois and
Oklahoma, and at last report was
still growing.

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