We received two letters this week arguing that our Hogwashed series had overlooked an important aspect of the pork production industry: the state's nine-million-plus pigs. We begin with Ellen Canavan, a member of N.C. Farmed Animal Save and Vegans for Peace, who quite clearly has no love for the industry.
"North Carolina's hog industry is in the news again," Canavan writes. "The environmental damage to the air, water, and quality of life for nearby neighbors has been an ongoing issue, now in federal court. Do people know that there are ten million forgotten lives as a result of the industry? The forgotten ones in every single article are the pigs themselves. Ten million living, breathing being confined in closed 'barns.'
"Pigs have been found to be the fourth most intelligent animals on the planet. They love their babies, they love to be outside, rooting in the dirt, foraging, sunning themselves, even playing. For these forgotten ones, every natural instinct is thwarted from the minute they're born. They have no choice at all in their entire lives. Piglets are shipped off to another farm, to fatten up to what they call market weight. Living conditions are very close; there is no bedding. They live their whole lives (six months at most) on concrete or wooden floors with slats in it. They don't ever go outside. They have nothing to do except eat.
"Every day there are sick or dead pigs and piglets who don't survive the night in a concentrated animal feeding operation. They are thrown into a 'dead box' at the end of the road. Once a day a truck comes by the CAFOs and picks up the carcasses from all the dead boxes.
"The pigs live in filth until one day they are prodded with paddles onto a truck. They're put onto a truck, packed tightly, and take the long ride to the slaughterhouse. This adventure may be the only time they've ever felt sunlight on their faces. At the end, they are again prodded off the truck. They may hear pigs screaming at the slaughterhouse, and they are afraid. Nevertheless, they are treated like things, herded into a gas chamber. When deemed deceased, they are hung up by one leg, their throats slit, they bleed out, and then they're dunked into a vat of scalding water—and they are on their way to being 'processed.' Their lives are made up of suffering from beginning to end."
Jessica Harris, a veterinary technician, offers similar thoughts: "As a native North Carolinian, veterinary nurse, and all-around animal lover, I was so excited to read your Hogwashed series, hoping it would bring light to one of the cruelest industries in our state. Imagine my disappointment when I read every word of your three-part series, which mentions political, health, and environmental considerations, but not even a word about the welfare of those millions of pigs. If living next to a pig farm is so insufferable, imagine what it would be like living in it, in a space so small you can't even turn around. Pigs are intelligent individuals no different in their capacity to suffer from our pets. Perhaps you can discuss the welfare implications for them, just as you advocate for the companion animals featured in your paper."
On a different subject, Brad Hessel, the treasurer of the Wake County Libertarian Party, writes that his party didn't nominate an unaffiliated voter for the third position on the county's Board of Elections [Triangulator, July 19] because it anticipated the major parties missing a deadline, but rather because, "For years, Republicans and Democrats have connived to marginalize independent voters. For example, while there are more independent voters in Wake County than Republicans—by far—and in another two or three years, they will outnumber Democrats here as well, there has not been a single independent voter appointed to the Wake County Board of Elections this century! (It's probably never happened, but I only had time to research back to 2000.)"