From The Mary T. and
Frank L. Hoffman
Dear Mary and Frank,
I was pleased to get this letter published a few days ago.
Sydney Morning Herald,
May 4, 2009
All about treatment, very little about mistreatment
Over the past week we've been bombarded with news headlines about the swine flu pandemic and the suffering that it is causing humans, but how many of us have given a thought to the suffering that we humans daily inflict on pigs?
Many of these intelligent, inquisitive, life-loving animals are in factory farms, deprived of every single basic need and pleasure. For the breeding sow life is particularly distressing. Viewed as nothing more than a breeding machine, she is condemned to a continuous cycle of pregnancy and birth. For much of her life she is confined in a metal-barred sow stall little bigger than her own body, and is forced to stand on hard cement flooring that causes foot and joint injuries. She can't turn around, nor can she lie down comfortably. In her barren, narrow prison, all she can do is chew on the metal bars.
Up to 90 per cent of sows exhibit behaviours that in humans would be diagnosed as signs of clinical depression, including severe listlessness, apathy, glazed eyes and lack of responsiveness. Sows suffer, too, from painful pressure sores from being forced to stand or lie in one position for long periods.
After giving birth, the sow is denied every mother's basic right - the right to nurture her offspring - and she can do nothing but watch helplessly as her squealing and struggling piglets have their tails cut off, their teeth crushed and their testicles ripped out of their scrotums.
Soon afterwards, she is again forcibly impregnated and this cycle continues until her body finally gives out. She is then sent away to be slaughtered.
Sadly, factory animals have no legal protection from cruelty despite the fact that they are as capable of feeling pain as the dogs and cats we cherish as companions.
Perhaps instead of being so concerned about the effect that swine flu might have on our own health, it's time we thought about the needless suffering to which we so willingly subject countless numbers of pigs for nothing but the taste of their flesh.
The fact that this virus has crossed from pigs to humans should clearly demonstrate that we are not worlds apart from them or, in fact, from any other farmed animal.
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