Animal cruelty during transport

(Caricature by Sunstar, Cebu)

This is simply a reaction to an article titled, ‘Animal cruelty can lead to fines’, published in Sunstar Cebu, dated, November 25, 2014.

I am not questioning about how the Department of Agriculture was able to come up with the hefty figure of P250,000 as penalty for those transporting animals inside cramped trucks or cages.

But what I want to bring out here is how to treat animals humanely when transporting them on trucks to destinations where they will end up being slaughtered.

Since the article mentioned above carried with it a caricature depicting helpless pigs cramped inside a cage on top of a truck driven by a maniacal driver with a sadistic-looking helper beside him, I presume that the concern was more directed to pigs/hogs more than any other animal, small or big, and for a reason, because almost always the mortality is high and costly in transported hogs because of its physical attributes.

Let us just remember that from the time they are born until they reach the slaughtering age, the hogs have always enjoyed the comforts accorded them inside the piggery farm. They are confined in pigpens where they do nothing but eat, drink, defecate, sleep and being doused with water by piggery attendants. They are not being shouted at. In fact other piggeries have soothing music playing. Suffice to say that the pigs are in an environment where they are not subjected to any stress whatsoever so that they can grow and gain weight corresponding to their age, as that is what the bottom line is in raising hogs.

It is when hogs come to age for slaughter that trouble starts. They are being yelled at and beaten to move faster on their way single file to the weighing scale, and even when prodded to march towards the back of a waiting truck that will transport them to wherever they have been sold to.

The more they are packed on the truck is, in fact, advantageous because that will prevent them from moving and/or sliding on the floor of the truck. Normally, the pigs are full because that is what the business dictates – sell, weigh and load them in full stomach. So, in effect, what happens is that all the way to its destination the pigs won’t stop urinating and defecating until the floor becomes slippery and dangerous.

The humane treatment comes when, depending on the weather, the driver and his helper decides to provide the truck a rooftop or not. They should also carry with them a barrel full of water so they could stop every now and then to refresh the hogs during the trip. Note that this will make the floor of the truck even wetter, but dousing the pigs with water, especially in long distances and in hot weather, is a necessary evil.

But, most of all what is important is that the driver should not drive the truck like a maniac so the pigs will not be bumping hard and falling one on top of the other, if only to prevent further meat bruises. In fact, the worse that could happen is when they slide or fall and split their hind legs and could not stand up anymore. This is a pitiful sight where almost always the pig suffers an early death.

Perhaps, this is where and when the heavy penalty fine should be meted.

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