This weekend on my 6.5 hour drives to and from my parents’ farm in North Dakota, I saw several trucks transporting pigs to–I assume–slaughter. Every time I saw them, I’d look at them all crammed in there and wondered when they last had anything to eat or drink. I thought about how hot they must be in the 85 degree weather packed so closely together. I wondered how many of them would die on the way to their imminent slaughter. It broke my heart passing those trucks.
Technically, truck drivers are supposed to unload, feed and water the animals every 28 hours. They are to have 5 hours of rest. The thing is, that law isn’t always followed, so animals go days without food, water, rest, or any kind of comfort. Compassion Over Killing did an investigation a few years ago and spoke with truck drivers who admitted to falsifying their documents—saying they unloaded the animals when they never did. I had read that prior to this trip, and couldn’t get it out of my mind as I saw each truckload of doomed pigs.
Animals die all the time during transport because of a failure to provide food, water, and rest. According to a 2006 press release issued by the HSUS:
“…none of the pigs were offloaded after their cross-country truck journey. Instead, the animals, who arrived in Texas on June 26 and 27, were left in cramped confinement inside trucks until June 29, up to an additional 48 to 72 hours, suffering temperatures in excess of 95 degrees. As a result, approximately 150 animals perished.”
Imagine spending DAYS trapped in a truck with very little room to move in 95 degree weather with no food and no water. It is amazing, really, that only 150 of the animals died when you think about it. I don’t think I’d survive in those circumstances!
The other thing that occurs to me is that I used to eat these animals – these sick, starved, dehydrated animals. The idea now of putting the diseased flesh of an animal that knew no kindness in his or her life really does not appeal to me. The only comfort I had (and it wasn’t much) when I saw those pigs sticking their snouts out of those trucks was that I know I no longer contribute to their suffering. I wanted to be able to tell them that, to tell them that not all humans are like the ones who forced them onto those trucks, and who will eventually kill them for their flesh. While I obviously couldn’t communicate that to them, it was good to know that I have at least removed myself from that suffering. I know it doesn’t make a difference to the pigs that I saw this weekend, but hopefully as more and more people go veg*n, fewer and fewer of their offspring will have to endure the same fate.