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This article was published 4/8/2018 (439 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BRANDON — An animal rights group in Manitoba claims a group of pigs were mistreated last month while en route to the Maple Leaf Foods Inc. facility in Brandon.
Footage captured by Manitoba Animal Save, a local branch of the larger Save Movement, shows several people in safety vests stopping a pair of semi-trailers on a dirt road. Inside the trailers are pigs, which the group claims were overcrowded and dehydrated.
In the video, reportedly taken July 13 and posted to YouTube on July 28, people are seen spraying water on the pigs and taking temperature readings inside the trailer. One thermometer reportedly gave a reading of nearly 40 C.
The video was further shared in a news release Friday by Animal Justice, a group made up of animal rights lawyers from around the country.
"Obviously, it’s heartbreaking — it’s devastating — to see animals suffering so much," said Cheryl Sobie, co-organizer for Manitoba Animal Save, adding it was important for them to be there to offer the pigs love and compassion.
"Because if that was me on that truck, I would want someone to be there for me at my final moments."
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the agency was contacted by Manitoba Animal Save, but the professional assessment of a CFIA veterinarian was the load was "in compliance with the Health of Animals Regulations, and that the animals were not overcrowded for the weather conditions at the time."
That stance did not sit well with Manitoba Animal Save, nor Maple Leaf Foods.
"Ultimately, what we witnessed is that pigs were extremely crowded, it was extremely hot, (and) they were frothing at the mouth and dehydrated," Sobie said.
In a statement, Greg Douglas, vice-president of animal care at Maple Leaf Foods, described the events as "completely unacceptable and unfortunate."
"These animals were being transported by a third-party carrier and were in transit to the Maple Leaf Foods Brandon facility," he said.
"Maple Leaf is working in complete co-operation with the CFIA, and we are in support of their investigation and conclusions.
"These events are unacceptable, and Maple Leaf Foods is on record supporting long-overdue changes to the federal animal transport regulations."
Andrew Dickson, general manager for Manitoba Pork, which represents the province’s pork producers, said he has not spoken to any of the parties involved — but noted the pigs are owned by the farmer until they are unloaded at the destined facility.
"I can’t tell anything from that video as to the condition of the animals inside. I cannot react to any claims this group is making about the number of animals on board. I don’t think they can either," he said.
Dickson said regulations exist around lowering pig transport densities in the summer, and when they do arrive at a plant, they are supposed to be unloaded quickly into a cool building and hosed down.
The pigs are then inspected by the CFIA to make sure they arrive in good condition.
Dickson said it is in the best interests of producers to ensure their pigs are healthy.
— Brandon Sun
Updated on Saturday, August 4, 2018 at 1:38 PM CDT: Photo, link to video added.