Protesters call on Walmart to phase out ‘cruel’ crates for pigs

Animal rights activists stood outside the Gresham Road Walmart Feb. 22 holding signs with images of abused pigs while standing next to an inflatable pig. They were protesting against what they said were cruel practices of confining pregnant pigs in tiny crates on factory farms.

Mercy For Animals, a national animal rights organization, is accusing Wal-Mart of cruelty to animals following “numerous” undercover investigations the group said exposed abuse to pigs at one of the retailer’s main pork suppliers.

The organization said newly released hidden-camera footage secretly recorded at Christensen Farms, a Wal-Mart pork supplier, reveals pregnant pigs confined for nearly their entire lives in fly-infested crates barely larger than their own bodies, pigs suffering from bloody open wounds and infections, and piglets being slammed headfirst into the ground and having their testicles ripped out and tails cut off without painkillers.

Mercy For Animals is calling on Wal-Mart to require its pork suppliers to phase out the practice of confining pigs in narrow crates–something Kroger, Safeway, Costco and McDonald’s have recently done. Mercy For Animals’ national campaign coordinator Phil Letten said the organization has been traveling around the country for four months protesting at Walmart stores. The Gresham Road Walmart was its 87th stop.

“We just feel the people of Atlanta have the right to know where their food comes from and how the animals are treated before they reach Wal-Mart shelves so they can make informed decisions,” he said. “We’re out here today because the hidden cost of Wal-Mart’s cheap pork is egregious animal cruelty.”

Letten said the crates that pigs are confined in are so small that the animals can’t turn around. The practice of confining pigs in tiny crates has been condemned by veterinarians and leading farm animal welfare experts. Confining a pregnant pig inside a narrow crate has been banned in nine U.S. states and the entire European Union.

“Wal-Mart 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. This is blatant animal abuse that no socially responsible corporation should be supporting. If Wal-Mart pork producers subjected dogs and cats to the array of standard abuse they inflict on pigs, they would be arrested and jailed on grounds of animal cruelty.”

Letten said they have spoken with Wal-Mart representatives about the issue.

“They are dragging their feet,” he said. “Every food provider in the country has committed to phasing these crates out except for Wal-Mart and we find it to be unacceptable,” he said.

Bill Wertz, Wal-Mart’s divisional director of public affairs and government relations, said Wal-Mart has released a statement on the issue, stating “this is a complicated issue and there are different points of view. We hold our suppliers to the highest standards and do not tolerate animal mistreatment.”

For more information on the campaign, visit www.WalmartCruelty.com.

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