By John Di Leonardo
This past week, my friend Karenlynn and I drove a piglet to his new forever home at Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in Poughquag, New York ( 40 miles from New York City). Karenlynn had helped rescue him from New York City’s Gateway National Park in Howard Beach ( part of New York City in The borough of Queens) where we suspect he was intended for animal sacrifice. Howie, as we’ve named him, was sick, underweight, and terrified when he was found. His eyes, skin, and a wound on his tail, where half of it was cut off, were infected. Today, just a little over a week later, he is happy, frolicking, and making friends with other pigs on a 40-acre home where he will be loved and never eaten. He was only 10 weeks old and 37lbs when he was found, but he will grow to 700lbs over the course of his now anticipated 20 years of life.
Countless pigs were not so lucky this 4th of July when 150 million hot dogs were consumed – enough to stretch from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles more than 5 times. While the 4th of July is a celebration of freedom in the United States, there are more than 75 million pigs on factory farms on any given day in this country, and 121 million are killed for food each year. Of these 75 million, approximately 6 million are mothers who spend their lives in cages not much bigger than their entire bodies – too small to even allow them to turn around. Piglets are abducted from their suffering mothers as young as 10 days old, and once her piglets are gone, she is impregnated again in an endless cycle of rape and child abduction – not unlike cows in the dairy industry – until she is put out of her misery at 3 or 4 years old. Her babies live even shorter lives, typically being killed when they are only 6 months old. In the United States, millions of male piglets are castrated annually, usually without painkillers, and like Howie they have their tails mutilated. They also may have the ends of their teeth broken off with pliers because due to the stress of extremely overcrowded conditions, piglets self-harm and cannibalize one another. Rather than bettering conditions so piglets won’t be driven psychotic, farmers mutilate the baby animals to minimize the harm they can do in windowless prisons by the thousands during their short, sad lives. I saw these conditions for myself in 2020 when I convinced one of the largest pork producers in the country to surrender me two 6-week-old piglets who are now thriving at Arthur’s Acres in Parksville, New York (110 miles from New York City). I left behind thousands of bloody and suffering piglets who would never know the light of day until they were being hauled to the slaughterhouse.
According to Dr. Donald Broom, a Cambridge University professor and a former scientific adviser to the Council of Europe, pigs “have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly [more so than] three-year-olds.” Lord Mahavira said, “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.” For this week’s Anuvrat, I ask that readers who still consume animals help save 200 animals like Howie every year by taking them off your plate and for those who are already vegan to share Howie’s story with a friend or family member and encourage them to live a kinder, healthier life.
John Di Leonardo is the founding director of Humane Long Island. He was previously the Senior Manager of Grassroots Campaigns and Animals in Entertainment Campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). He has a Master’s degree in Anthrozoology from Canisius College. He also earned a graduate certificate in Jain Studies from the International School of Jain Studies (ISJS) in India. John can be reached at [email protected].