As an animal lover, I’m concerned about the cruelty mother pigs endure in the pork industry in Canada. Most of these intelligent, inquisitive animals are confined in tiny cages—known as gestation crates—for virtually their entire lives. These cages are so small, the pigs are unable even to turn around.
But now, new draft standards are being proposed for the pork industry which offer hope! However, while these standards will end the use of permanently confining mother pigs in tiny crates for their entire lives, they will still allow up to five weeks of confinement during every four month pregnancy a sow endures, adding up to almost a quarter of her short life spent in a cage so small that she can’t even turn around. If we abused dogs or cats like this, we’d be arrested for animal cruelty.
In April, the Retail Council of Canada announced that eight of its biggest members – Walmart Canada, Costco Canada, Metro, Loblaw, Safeway Canada, Federated Co-operatives, Sobeys and Co-op Atlantic – were going to move away from gestation crate housing, a huge victory for animals! Tim Hortons—Canada’s largest restaurant chain—also committed to eliminate these crates from its supply chain.
This is the retailers' chance: both the RCC and Tim Hortons are involved in the process of finalizing the industry’s new standards – they have the power to say “no” to this continued confinement. With the draft policy now open for public feedback, this is the retailers' – and the industry’s – chance to end the use of cruel gestation cages once and for all.
I’m respectfully requesting these food industry leaders make it clear that the five week confinement loophole is unacceptable. The practice is out of step with how their consumers feel farm animals ought to be treated: A recent poll found that 84% of Canadians support completely eliminating the use of these cages.
Please help Canada’s pigs by signing this petition, thanking these companies for speaking out for animals, and kindly asking them to say “no” to locking animals up as if they were simply units on a production line.
Photo credit: Mercy For Animals Canada
As you know, the National Farm Animal Care Council recently announced its new draft policy on pig welfare. Unfortunately, the draft contains a loophole permitting pork producers to still confine mother pigs in tiny cages for five weeks at a time—adding up to more than nine months of extreme confinement during their four-year lives. Ending permanent confinement is a huge step forward, but still allowing more than a month at a time in cramped cages is not good enough.
I appreciate that our country’s food industry is playing such an important role protecting animals from heinous abuse, and I sincerely hope you’ll urge NFACC to eliminate the loophole that would diminish your work to free breeding sows from the type of intensive confinement that your consumers simply don’t support. Right now you have an opportunity to help more than a million animals out of tiny cages: please encourage the pork industry to set a standard that you can support and ask them to get rid of gestation crates for good.