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Pigs Trucked More Than 1,200 Miles Over More Than 30 Hours in Extreme Heat
Washington, D.C. – March 21, 2022 – Animal Outlook, a national non-profit animal advocacy organization, today released a new investigation documenting the transport of pigs by truck more than 1,200 miles over more than 30 hours with no stops for the pigs to eat, drink and rest. Temperatures on the journey were as high as 91 degrees, and investigators documented pigs vocalizing at night while they were confined together in the trailer.
Transport is known to be stressful and dangerous for animals. It is difficult for animals to regulate their body temperatures under stress in overcrowded, poorly ventilated transport vehicles. In addition to overcrowding, loud noises, motion sickness, and dehydration put an extraordinary amount of mental and physical stress on the animals. In high temperatures, exhaustion, dehydration, heat stress, cardiac arrest and sudden death are common.
According to a 2019 article in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, “the risk of death for market-weight pigs during transport can be 1.4 times higher at temperatures between 29 and 33 degrees C [84.2 and 91 degrees F] than in a temperature range of 12-26 degrees C [53.6-78.8 degrees F]. The article goes on to say that “extreme environmental temperatures during transit are generally considered to be one of the greatest contributors to transport losses in terms of pigs dying. Pigs do not sweat; therefore, they are limited in their ability to thermoregulate in hot environments and are sensitive to heat stress.”
The Twenty-Eight Hour Law prohibits transporting animals for more than 28 consecutive hours without unloading them for at least five hours of rest and providing water and food.
“Although it is clearly illegal under federal law, gruelingly long transport with no opportunities for rest, food or water is a commonplace reality for farmed animals because the law is woefully under-enforced,” said Cheryl Leahy, executive director, Animal Outlook. “ We’re calling on the USDA and the Department of Justice to enforce this law on the basis of our investigation and wherever violations occur. And the law is in need of reform – our country lags behind in protecting animals in transport – such as the EU, where animals must be allowed to rest and given food and water every eight hours.”
Our investigations in 2005 and 2012 along with this one uncovered and documented what we allege to be violations of this federal law. In fact, 726,000 pigs and 29,000 cows die in transport every year – just in the U.S. Yet there were only 11 investigations into potential violations in a recent 12-year period.
Prior to our 2005 investigation, the USDA had refused to enforce the law when animals were transported by truck. After our investigation, we and our coalition partners submitted a petition to the USDA to apply the law to trucks. The USDA then reversed its policy and acknowledged that the law applies to trucks, yet enforcement remains rare.
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Animal Outlook is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) animal advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. Our mission: Working today to build a better tomorrow for all animals. We’re strategically challenging the status quo of animal agribusiness through undercover investigations, legal advocacy, corporate and food system reform and empowering everyone to choose vegan.