Humane Society claims abuse at VA pig farm

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

WAVERLY, VA (WWBT) – Allegations of animal abuse are launched against a pig farm in Waverly, Virginia.

In an undercover investigation, the Humane Society of the United States says it found unacceptable and systemic abuses of the female breeding pigs.

The farm is operated by a company called Murphy-Brown which is owned by the world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods. Wednesday morning, the Humane Society released dramatic video from its month-long undercover investigation.

The eight minute video shows animals with scratches and bruises. Another clip shows a pig being thrown in a dumpster, alive. And then there's this....

"Here you see workers are trying to remove a sow from here gestation crate into another crate as they're beating her with a gate rod," said Paul Shapiro, Senior Director with the Humane Society.

The Humane Society along with the Richmond SPCA released the findings during a joint press conference. They're asking Smithfield Foods to better its treatment of animals and to recommit to getting rid of gestation crates by 2017.

"These are small 2 foot wide cages barely larger than the animals own bodies in which they're unable to turn around for months at a time," said Shapiro.

Although gestation crates have been banned in several states -- they're not illegal in Virginia -- meaning the pig farm in Waverly and others in the commonwealth are well within their rights to use the crates. Smithfield says it's investigating the Humane Society's allegations.

In a statement a spokesperson says in part, "We provide regular training to our employees on our animal welfare policies and procedures, and we have zero tolerance for any behavior that does not conform to our established animal well-being procedures."

The Humane Society says it now plans on taking its findings to lawmakers.

A spokesperson with Smithfield says although it withdrew a timeline to get rid of gestation crates by 2017 because of economic reasons -- the company is still committed to eliminating the crates from its farms.

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