Shining light on the plight of factory animals
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/07/2021 (693 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There have been a couple articles about the Little Red Barn Micro Sanctuary in Charleswood lately and as an animal advocate myself, I wanted to add my congratulations to the compassion young woman – Jessica Walker – who founded the sanctuary and plans a career in animal welfare.
Katlyn Streilein’s article “A second chance for barnyard animals,” (The Metro, June 3) reported how Jessica had saved 1,700 hens from slaughter – hens that have been kept in battery cages and hadn’t seen the light of day.
Aaron Epp’s article “Animal magnetism,” (Winnipeg Free Press, June 19) expanded on the thousands of rescues that followed – among them chickens, pigs, sheep, dairy cows and horses. The catalyst for the sanctuary was a science fair project where Jessica learned about factory farming and the environmental impact of animal agriculture. What she discovered compelled her to start and run the animal sanctuary.
While creating the sanctuary is an admirable undertaking and the animals that have found a home there are very lucky, it is impossible to rescue every animal headed for slaughter.
What needs to change is the mindset of those who believe it is OK to keep animals in cages and slaughter up to 1,000 an hour. The change in mindset must include our government, which encourages and supports the expansion of industrialized hog barns.
I have written to three government officials to express my concerns on this front.
First, to the deputy minister – my focus of concern was the use of gestation crates in hog barns. Sows spend most of their lives in crates so small they cannot move or turn around. The crates were supposed to be phased out in 2024 (having given producers 10 years to make the change) and now producers are asking for an extension to 2029. I received a response stating appropriate regulations are being enforced.
I then wrote to the Minister of Agriculture about the pending ag gap legislation, which would deny concerned citizens the opportunity to protest against inhumane treatment and abuse of animals in factory farms. I understand that the legislation has quietly passed.
Finally I wrote to Premier Pallister because the regulations under which the hog barns operate are the problem, including: systemic animal abuse – particularly the use of gestation crates; a highly subsidized industry with roughly 94 per cent of the meat exported along with most of the profit to foreign investors while 100 per cent the waste stays in Manitoba; too many hog barns (590 to be exact) many of which have more than 5,000 pigs per barn – creating more manure than the soil can absorb so the waste runs into rivers and streams that drain in Lake Winnipeg, resulting in growth of blue-green algae, which is toxic to humans and animals.
It is not enough for the government to enforce regulations. It needs to change the regulations to address the problems that factory farms, and in particular hog barns, create for the animals, the communities in which they operate and the environment.
Eventually, we will evolve into a society in which systemic animal abuse will not be tolerated.
Education is the key to this evolutionary process and hopefully the next generation, with people like Jessica Walker, will lead the way to enlightened animal welfare.
Charleswood community correspondent
Donna Minkus is a community correspondent for Charleswood.