In case you haven't heard the news, authorities made a grisly discovery on a Pennsylvania farm on Monday: between 950 and 1,000 dead pigs were left to starve to death.
"I was horrified when I opened the door and saw what I saw," said Dennis Bumbaugh, a police officer with the Better Days Animal League. "All I know at this point is that I'm dealing with a heck of a lot of dead animals." (Source)
The farm, in Union Township, belongs to a couple named Dennis and Kerron Clark, who have reportedly separated in recent years. Dennis left the farm in August and stopped taking care of the pigs. Thanks to him, now the place has become an open-air mass grave.
The poor animals died over a period of several months and in extreme agony.
Almost as appalling as the hundreds of pigs perishing in such an excruciating way was the reaction of realtor Rebecca Glesner of Long and Foster Real Estate, who is in the unenviable position of trying to sell the giant death house.
Her response to the gruesome scene? "I think this is very normal in a lot of farming operations, that you're going to have dead animals." (Source)
Dude, you didn't say that. Tell me you didn't say that!
Very normal? Just what in God's name do you define as "very normal?"
Sadly, systematic and institutionalized cruelty is normal in the factory farm racket. From the time they're piglets, pigs live short and violent lives, often kept in dark and poorly ventilated places. Female pigs in gestation crates have no room to move around. Pigs unable to move on their own due to sickness or injury are carried to slaughter on forklifts. In many operations, pigs are conscious and aware of being slaughtered. And even in the more "humane" farms that successfully put pigs to sleep, their deaths are still violent and bloody. Don't fool yourself into believing that if an animal is unconscious, everything is OK.
But as horrific as the treatment of pigs in the factory farm system is, it's not quite as awful as allowing these poor animals to starve to death.
Maybe the simple fact that the terrible treatment of pigs is "normal" should cause us to step back and call for an end to the violence that human beings inflict on millions of these animals every single day in all parts of the world.
This mass starvation of pigs is but the latest in a long, long, long catalogue of unspeakably awful episodes of animal abuse. And it is emblematic of a wasteful society that both fails to protect animals and puts an incredibly low price on life.
Remember that all pigs began like this little fellow right here. They are intelligent animals who have feelings and memories, form bonds, and even communicate with each other. They need warmth and love and care, not neglect, abuse, starvation and violence.
What right have we to call ourselves a "civilization" while we're condoning - either through direct endorsement or simply looking the other way - the mass slaughter of these beautiful and very important beings?