Diseased, Injured and Sick Animals Enter Our Food Chain In Factory Farming

Taken from Farm Sanctuary P.O. Box 150, Watkins Glen, NY 14891-0150, [607]583-2225, www.farmsanctuary.org

Nothing is more heartbreaking than watching a sick or injured animal struggle to stand or walk.  Your instinct is to help…to nurse the animal back to health or, in the very worst cases, make sure his or her passage from this life is peaceful and painless.

But everyday on factory farms, animals to sick to stand or walk are kicked, beaten, and even pushed with forklifts just to get them back on their shaky, weak legs one last time so they can be slaughtered for meat.

If workers fail to get the suffering animal up, they just toss him or her aside to die in a corner with no food, water or veterinary care.  Sometimes they even dump them on piles of dead animals.

That’s where I found Hilda the sheep back in 1986.  From atop a stack of festering carcasses.  Hilda mustered the strength to lift her head and look at me.  Rescuing Hilda began Farm Sanctuary and our efforts to stop cruelty toward “downed” animals like Hilda.

With the help of friends like you, we’ve made steady progress in our No Downers Campaign.  Most notably, President Obama’s administration banned the slaughter of downed cattle. But that victory left other downed farm animals-including pigs, unprotected.

We’ve also discovered a tragic loophole in the current rule that allows downed cows who arrive by truck at the slaughterhouse to be turned away at the door.  Instead of being humanely euthanized as the rule intends, the fate of these cows is unknown.  I shudder to think of what might be happening to these sick and injured individuals.

Farm Sanctuary has submitted a legal petition, called a “petition for rulemaking,” to the U.S. Department of Agriculture {USDA} demanding that the agency ban the slaughter of downed pigs, and this summer, we will submit a petition for rulemaking demanding that the downer cattle loophole be closed.

Farm Animals Are Not Trash

It takes a pretty hard-hearted person to walk past a sick and shivering baby.  But when Riley, a newborn piglet, was tossed to the side of a pen at a New York stockyard, no one seemed to notice-or if they did, they didn’t care.

At only seven pounds, Riley was too sick to even stand, his head tilted awkwardly to the side and one of his eyes was nearly swollen shut due to severe infection.  You or I would have held Riley in our arms and rushed to help him–but those at the stockyard just walked on by.

And, although his situation was urgent, it only took a little love and some specialized care to help him to a full recovery.

But that was too much help for the meat industry to provide.

It’s no surprise then that the industry is aggressively pushing USDA to reject our efforts to protect downed animals like Riley.  The National Port Producers Council is fighting us-even issuing an action alert to its members urging them to submit comments in opposition to protecting downed pigs.  Meanwhile, the American Meat Institute and several state pork production organizations have joined against us.

They feel no obligation to care for a helpless pig like Riley.

But Riley was “lucky” He was a baby at a stockyard where Farm Sanctuary could rescue him.  Had he been an adult in the same miserable condition at a slaughterhouse, the pork industry would have gone to incredible lengths-even kicking, beating, or dragging him by his ears to the kill floor so they could send him into the human food supply.

Enough to Make You Sick

USDA records show that downed animals have been afflicted with gangrene, malignant lymphoma, pneumonia, and other serious illnesses.

And it’s not just a few sick animals.  According to the pork industry, between 500,000 and 1.1 million pigs annually arrive at slaughterhouses too sick or injured to walk, and that number is climbing due to the use of growth-promoting drugs.

The European Food Safety Authority, the gold standard for assessing food safety, issued a report drawing the conclusion that downed animals who languish on dirty factory farm floors are more likely to have fecal matter on their hides and thereby pose a serious risk to food safety.

Downed animals should never be allowed to enter the human food supply.

But to the meat producers, it’s all about business and profits.  They have no incentive to end the conditions that cause animals to get sick and injured in the first place.  Instead, they’ll go to extraordinary lengths to sell sick and diseased animals for slaughter so they end up on unsuspecting families’ kitchen tables and children’s schools lunch trays.

Undercover investigations show sick and injured pigs being pushed with forklifts and shocked with electric prods just to get them to the kill floor so they can be slaughtered and sold!

Meanwhile, with the loophole in the current downed cattle rule, we don’t even know what is happening to sick and injured cows who arrive by truck at the slaughterhouse. I am afraid to imagine the piles of dead and dying cows festering like garbage near dumpsters or on the sides of the roads.

Downed Animals Need Your Help

Today, you have the chance to help millions of downed farm animals and prevent them from being mercilessly abused, abandoned like garbage, or put into the human food supply.

For more than a quarter-century we have worked on behalf of downed farm animals, and have rescued many, many animals the meat and dairy industries deemed worthless. We saw a different future for them. We nursed these animals back to health and gave them a chance to live healthy, happy lives at our shelters or in loving adoptive homes.

After his safe recovery at Farm Sanctuary, Riley was adopted by a loving family in West Virginia.  He spends his days frolicking about with his best friend, Petunia.

We love the life we’ve given these rescued animals and so many others, but we know we cannot be there for every one of the millions who need us.  To help downed animals we need to make systematic changes in the way factory farms do business- and we’ve made important progress over the years.

In 1993, our prosecution of Lancaster Stockyards in Pennsylvania – that awful facility where I rescued Hilda-resulted in the first-ever conviction of a U.S. stockyard for downer abuse. That same year, a USDA – run slaughterhouse in Wisconsin was also convicted of animal cruelty for mistreating a downed animal, thanks to hundreds of Farm Sanctuary members who spoke out and demanded prosecution.

We’ve worked to pass state laws, including one in California, to prevent inhumane treatment of downed animals at stockyards and slaughterhouses.

But that law fails to extend these same protections to other farm animals which includes between 500,000 and 1.1 million pigs who arrive at slaughterhouses each year too injured or sick to stand or walk.  It also has a loophole that could be leaving countless downed cows to continue suffering.

That’s why Farm Sanctuary is filing new legal petitions, which argue that USDA is violating its congressional mandate and is legally required to ban the slaughter of ALL downed animals.

Add Your Name

Farm Sanctuary’s strength comes from members who join like you.

This is a decades-long campaign, but it is heating up this summer, so it is very important that you respond right away.

Farm animals are among the most abused creatures on earth. They need you to help them. Help Farm Sanctuary rush needy animals to safety, speak out against cruel confinement systems, educate the public about how farm animals suffer-and stop downed animals from dying a painful and terrifying death at the hands of the factory farm industry.

Any abuse of farm animals is unconscionable.  But there is something particularly heartless about the cruel treatment of downed animals.  To think that Hilda and Riley tossed aside like garbage when they were at their weakest and most vulnerable is sickening-but this kind of abuse is rampant within the factory farm industry.

Please stand up to the powerful meat industry and end policies that put profits before compassion.  Contribute today at www.farmsanctuary.org

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