Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Water and Watermelon for Dying Pigs

In the United States, the laws on transporting animals to slaughter are extremely lax.  The government suggests that transporters ideally keep trips under 8 hours, but at the very least give the animals a break from the truck once every 24 hours.  Animals are often deprived of food and water for hours or days because it will be wasted on a body that is about to be killed. Many drivers simply don't care or can't be bothered to let the animals out for a break. On the long transit to their death, these "food" animals are exposed to all elements, be it searing hot or so cold that the animals begin to freeze to each other and to the truck.  The journey is so brutal, an estimated 1 million pigs die in transit each year.

In this moment, these victims on route to the slaughterhouse are probably receiving the only bit of compassion they will ever know from humans, their last (maybe only) glimpse of sunlight, and certainly their only taste of watermelon. The ones trapped in the middle of the countless overheated, filthy bodies receive nothing. 

Photo by Anita Krajnc

As this image circulates across Facebook and advocacy networks, the response from viewers speaks to the power of emotion in narratives and photography.  Photographer Anita Krajnc writes:  "[ . . . ] if you haven't yet made the connection between the pleasure of your bacon and the misery of these animals' lives and death, may this image cause a change of heart."

Breaching the false divide between human and nonhuman/consumer and product, these women don't just ease the suffering of these pigs, they restore their personhood.  No longer faceless, nameless commodities, the pigs become individuals.  This image asks us to reconsider our relationship with so-called "food" animals.  Commodities or neighbors?  Friends or food?  Things or persons?  Rights-bearers or property?

Daisy enjoys some watermelon under happier circumstances.
Pigs Peace Sanctuary in Stanwood, WA.

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