If Pigs Were Pets
Empathy can be a powerful thing. Anyone who has a pet dog or cat gains fresh insight into their inner lives every day. Some scientists have traditionally frowned at such empathy, describing it as ‘anthropomorphism’ – prescribing human characteristics to animals – and getting in the way of objectivity. But the unconditional love millions of dog and cat owners feel for their pets, cannot be underestimated. Recent research studies have identified that 14% of people in a relationship admit to loving their pet more than their partner.
But how many of those same animal lovers pause to think of the life of the sentient being behind their bacon sandwich, sausage, steak or burger? Why this disconnect with the life of the sentient animals who provide our food? How can we react strongly to cruelty to our companion animals, yet seemingly turn a blind eye to the intolerable suffering of farm animals?
Today, many millions of pounds are spent on designing engaging packaging suggestive of happy farm animals in pretty farmyards and in buttercup fields. Brands and language is used to market the products under terms like ‘farm fresh’ and ‘country fresh’, in an attempt to convey a romantic ‘Old MacDonalds’ farm image.
The sad truth is that many of the products sold are fresh from factory farms, where animals are denied a life worth living. Powerful vested interests would prefer we suppress our empathy too for fear we would stop buying meat, milk and eggs if we knew the real facts behind the labels.
Is it a genuine disconnect that has developed over time or a lack of information? Scientists have proved beyond doubt that pigs are every bit as intelligent as dogs, yet the life of a pig on an industrial farm is appalling. Just imagine how dog lovers would react if Labradors or French Bulldogs, our current most favoured dog breeds, were treated in the same way as a factory farmed pig. Mothering sows giving birth in farrowing crates so small they can’t even turn around for weeks at a time. Piglets’ teeth are often clipped and their tails cut off without anaesthetic to stop them from tail biting in the barren conditions.
As if these facts aren’t horrific enough, we know from recent reports that the pig industry has a dark secret because the vast majority of the big slaughterhouses in Britain and Europe do not kill pigs by electrical stunning, which would mean instant unconsciousness, but by lowering them in crates into chambers filled with carbon dioxide causing them to gasp for breath and hyperventilate, causing pain and panic amongst the terrified animals. The gas acidifies eyes, nostrils, mouths and lungs, meaning the animals feel like they are burning from the inside out for 15-60 seconds or more.
A statement released by Eurogroup for Animals and nearly 70 member societies, including Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA, has called for an urgent move away from the killing method that causes “pain and distress” to many millions of pigs across Europe. If pigs were our pets, the animal loving nations would take to the streets to demand urgent, definitive action and, of course, their governments would listen.
If you have been moved by what you have read, please share this blog widely to help others understand that behind every bacon sandwich and sausage, is the horrific and hidden suffering of sentient beings, equally as intelligent as beloved family dogs.
We all need to stop the inhumane factory farming of animals and the cruel practice of this CO2 non-stun slaughter.
For readers and supporters in the UK, please click here to take action by writing to Theresa Villiers, Defra Secretary of State, calling for urgent action to ban high-concentrate carbon dioxide killing.
For others in Europe, we will advise you of other ways you can help and helpful actions once the new EU Commission is installed in December 2019