Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal
Over the past two weeks, animal rights activists have joined alongside Mercy For Animals in a national protest against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its pork suppliers. Toting a 10-foot inflatable pig, bloody with sores and locked in a narrow crate, and waving signs that read “Walmart Tortures Pigs” and “Walmart Supports Animal Abuse,” animal advocates are posting outside Walmart store locations all over the country in a demonstration against the cruel practice of confining pregnant pigs in tiny gestation crates on factory farms.
Earlier this year, the Humane Society (HSUS) released an undercover investigation at Oklahoma pig breeding facilities owned by two of the nation’s largest pork producers—one of which, Seaboard Foods, is the nation’s third-largest pork company and yet another supplier to Walmart.
“At two different pork suppliers, we documented these pregnant pigs confined in these filthy metal gestation crates that are so small the animals aren’t able to turn around or lie down comfortably for nearly their entire lives,” said Phil Letten, Mercy for Animals National Campaign Coordinator.
The nationwide protest follows just weeks after the release of hidden-camera footage recorded at Christensen Farms, revealing pregnant pigs with open, bloody wounds and infections living in filthy cages so small they cannot turn or lie down comfortably. The footage also shows piglets being abused. Watch the graphic video at your own discretion.
“Walmart pork suppliers are guilty of horrific cruelty to animals,” Letten said. “Pork sold in Walmart stores comes from pigs who are abused, neglected, and sentenced to lives of extreme confinement and deprivation in crates where they can’t even turn around, walk, lie down comfortably, or engage in other natural behaviors. This is blatant animal abuse that no socially responsible corporation should be supporting.”
According to Mercy For Animals, the practice is banned in nine U.S. states as well as the entire European Union. Not to mention, it is also widely condemned by veterinarians and leading farm animal welfare experts.
Christensen Farms denied charges of animal cruelty, claiming images from the video are “dated” and “intentionally taken out of context.”
Walmart spokeswoman Deisha Galberth Barnett said their suppliers are held in the highest standard and do not tolerate animal mistreatment.
“We currently offer gestation crate-free pork products in a number of stores across the U.S. and will continue our on-going discussions with suppliers, non-governmental organizations and food safety experts to increase that number,” said Barnett.
In the meantime, Letten plans to continue talks with Walmart’s top officials and says he will halt Mercy For Animals’ nationwide protest tour if Walmart decides to demand humane treatment of animals from their food providers—like McDonald’s did earlier this year when they dropped their inhumane egg-supplier, Sparboe Farms.
Today’s protest took place in Baltimore, MD. Over the next two weeks, the tour will be visiting Walmart stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Conneticut, Massachusetts, and Ohio. For more information on these events, visit the Mercy For Animals’ Walmart Cruelty Tour webpage.