Pigs shipped to Hawaii should be treated humanely
A coalition of animal-rights groups says pigs endure inhumane conditions while being shipped from Canada to Hawaii for slaughter.
With their previous complaints ignored, animal-rights activists have launched a campaign to again call for a halt to the shipment of live pigs from Canada to Hawaii, where they are slaughtered and sold. Federal officials should examine the practice and take action to eliminate any cruel and unnecessary treatment of the animals.
A coalition of groups under the umbrella of the World Society for the Protection of Animals announced this week the completion of a two-year investigation of the transporting of live animals long distances to be slaughtered upon arrival. The coalition says the pigs are exposed to extreme climate changes, among other brutal conditions, and many die before reaching Hawaii.
State agriculture officials maintain that the travel conditions are satisfactory for pigs, and a Matson Navigation spokesman said water, ventilation, proper feed supplies and livestock tenders are present while the pigs are at sea.
The announcement focused on the 4,000-mile trips that up to 15,000 pigs a year endure by truck from Alberta and shipping from California ports to Hawaii from which they "never leave cramped, filthy containers for food, water or rest." The coalition asserts that the pigs are slaughtered in Hawaii and "sold to unsuspecting consumers as 'Island Produced Pork'" or served in restaurants and luaus.
Cathy Goeggel of Animal Rights Hawaii pleaded in 2005 for an end to the shipments after Animals' Angels, a Maryland-based group that focuses on improving care of farm animals, documented the trips' conditions. Goeggel said Hawaii rules allow pigs that arrive in Hawaii alive to be advertised as local, so the Canadian-bred pork is sold as "island fresh," a specious label.
Gerry Ritz, the Canadian agriculture minister, said his agency is proposing a rule to prohibit the export of live animals if transportation conditions anywhere during the route fail to meet Canadian standards, according to the Canadian Press news agency. Current rules are limited to requiring humane transportation of live animals within Canadian borders.
"It is unacceptable for animals to suffer and to die under inhumane conditions," Ritz wrote in a December letter to animal-rights groups.
Slaughtering pigs in Canada and shipping the pork to Hawaii as frozen meat might be less advantageous than advertising fresh pork, but it is far preferable to what coalition officer Melissa Tkachyk describes as pigs "being shipped like garbage on its way to a landfill."
The coalition cites three other international routes -- from Australia to the Middle East, from Brazil to Lebanon and from Spain to Italy -- but the Canada-to-Hawaii route is the focal point, with supporting video footage.