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31 January 1999 Issue

For The Love Of Charlie

This true story was told to Viva's Juliet Gellatley, author
of the Livewire Guide to Going, Being and Staying Veggie!

Jody Seymour of Welshpool, England, got her first job on a pig farm.
There she met a special pig who changed her life forever...

When I was 17, I got my first job--it was on a small pig farm. I "loved" animals
and enjoyed working with them. I had names for a few of the sows--Toots, an
ancient middle-white cross, and Bubbles, a lovely, gentle sow who used to
narrow her bottom lip into an amazingly long tubular shape and blow bubbles!
She loved having her tummy rubbed and would roll over like a dog with her
legs in the air. I once had a doze in a pen with two large sows. When I awoke,
they had lain down on either side of me and gone to sleep!

It seems horrifying now, but I cut piglets' eye teeth and amputated their tails
without much thought. I was assured they soon forgot any pain this caused.
The worst mutilation was the castration of the piglets. This I did not do, but I
watched it done by the farmer. A piglet would be held upside down, a knife
slashed into each testicle, the contents pulled out and a purple colored anti-
septic sprayed onto the open wound--no anesthetic. The screaming was
terrible, mixed with the frantic crying of the sows.

After a few months, I began to get uneasy about the trailer taking away the
"fat" pigs, but it wasn't until I made friends with a pig I named Charlie that I
appreciated what slaughter really meant. He was one of the runty pigs that
didn't grow very well and was bullied by others, so he was kept in a separate
hut. I was soon having my tea break and lunch break inside that hut, chatting
with him. He used to be fascinated by my boots. If he rubbed his nose up the
sole it would make the rubber squeak; this amused him greatly.

Then one day he was in the trailer. Pigs used to be loaded into the trailer
during the afternoon and denied food or water before being taken to the
slaughterhouse the following morning. I remember, before biking home that
evening, pushing my fingers through the slats of the trailer to say goodbye to
Charlie. When I touched his nose, I felt sickness in the pit of my stomach,
tears welled up in my eyes. I didn't want him to go, I didn't want him to die.
Late the next day, the farmer told me to look in the trunk of his car. I looked
and saw pieces of meat. "That's Charlie," he said. I left the farm soon after.

After a couple of months without a job and being pressured from my mother,
I took another pig farm job. Nothing but crates, slatted doors, tiny pens and
no straw. One night one of the workers left a piece of the slatted floor up
behind the farrowing crate. The sow gave birth and all the newborn piglets fell
into the manure pit below. I was physically sick thinking about it. The others
laughed--despite the financial loss, they found it funny.

At another time, I saw a sick pig being thrown onto a concrete floor for a joke,
to see if his back might break. I wanted desperately to intervene but, to my
shame, I didn't, my only excuse being that I was scared of the men and, if
they saw I was upset, they'd hurt the pig even more. Pigs being kicked,
shouted at and generally manhandled was a regular occurrence on this farm.
I witnessed pigs being loaded onto a trailer with electric prods applied to their
rumps and faces. I remember one pig in particular looking totally bewildered with
blood oozing from his nostrils.

I lasted less than a month in this porcine hell. A year later, I saw a film of pigs
being slaughtered. I felt sick and ashamed that I used to be a part of it
(although, of course, everyone who buys a package of sausage or orders
bacon, is a part of it, too). First I gave up pork. Now I am a vegan and hope
that other people will join me in turning the tide for these wonderful animals.

YOU CAN HELP!

* Don't eat the animals, please. When you shop, think of the animals who
just hours before were fighting for their lives, and decide not to contribute to
such suffering.

From PETA's Animal Times, Summer 1998

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