One hundred and sixty-seven pigs were the winners in a dramatic showdown between the animal rights movement and the pork industry just outside of Washington, D.C..
The pigs were being transported from a factory farm in North Carolina (the country’s largest pork production state) to a Pennsylvania slaughterhouse. On route, the driver parked the triple-decker trailer on a Washington, D.C. street — and then abandoned the trailer leaving the animals in the hot sun without water or basic care. Fortunately, local residents notified the police and the Washington Humane Society was contacted. The trailer, was seized by the agency, and shortly after midnight, was towed to the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, located in rural Maryland, one hour from D.C.
Throughout the night, animal activists worked tirelessly to remove the frightened pigs from the trailer. Most of the pigs were too frightened to move and many of the pigs had trouble walking and were trembling uncontrollably. The unloading process took several hours and a ramp had to be built to remove the pigs from the third level of the truck. The animals were terrified when they got off the trucks, and most walked on their knees and were dehydrated and weak. They each licked the dirt, something they had never seen, and made their way into their temporary pasture.
The following day, agents from Hanor Company, a North Carolina pork corporation, and their legal counsel arrived at Poplar Spring with local police to retrieve the animals. Upon arrival, Hanor’s representatives were asked to provide a cash payment in excess of $10,000 to cover the costs associated with caring for the animals. In lieu of making this payment, Hanor agreed to sign the pigs over to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. The sanctuary and pigs’ interests were represented by Laura Nelson, an attorney from the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Authorities decided not to bring criminal charges against the Hanor Company for abandoning the pigs. The largest “penalty,” however, was already assessed when the Hanor Company lost the “market value” of the pigs, estimated at approximately $14,000.
The surviving pigs are now living out their natural lives at sanctuaries. Farm Sanctuary took in 40 of these magnificent animals. When the pigs arrived, they were approximately six to eight months old, and those who remain have been with us here at Farm Sanctuary for over seven years now. Due to problems with lameness, a retirement pig area was built for anyone having trouble getting around.
Although the pigs were terrified when they arrived, they love human attention now, and will lay on their sides when people approach in hopes of getting a belly rub.