PITTSTON TWP. — Several area activists joined Mercy for Animals, a national animal rights organization, to protest Walmart’s use of a pork provider that they contend unnecessarily abuses pigs.
In May 2012, an undercover Mercy for Animals investigation released hidden-camera footage purportedly recorded at Christensen Farms, a Walmart pork supplier and one of the largest pork producers in the country.
Footage on a Mercy for Animals website showed thousands of pregnant pigs confined to narrow and metal crates known as gestation crates that make pigs unable to turn around or lie down. It also showed workers slamming pigs’ heads into the ground and cutting off tails without administering painkillers.
Following the investigation, major national restaurants such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King demanded their suppliers to do away with gestation crates. In addition, confining a pregnant pig in such a crate has been banned in all of the European Union and in nine states, said Mercy for Animals coordinator Jeni Haines, who helped organize the protest.
When Haines learned about factory farming of pigs six years ago, she said she felt compelled to stand up for animal rights.
“We have the moral obligation to protect all animals from needless cruelty and violence,” she said.
Haines has traveled all over the U.S. to Walmarts on Mercy For Animals’ “Walmart Cruelty Tour” and said the “hidden cost of cheap pork is blatant animal abuse.”
“It is time for Walmart to follow the lead as Safeway, Kroger and their other competitors by committing to phase out cruel crates,” Haines said.
Haines, along with tour assistant Crystal Gordon and local activists stood outside of Walmart off Route 315 Thursday with signs donned with images of abused pigs reading, “Walmart Tortures Pigs” and “Walmart Pork=Animal Abuse.”
A 10-foot tall inflatable pig, with bloody sores and locked in a crate, was used as a prop to get the attention of shoppers.
“It is very representative of what the pigs from Walmart suppliers go through their entire lives,” Haines said.
Within the first 30 minutes of Thursday’s protest, a car stopped and a mother and her son donated $2 to the cause.
Geneva Laviska, of Falls, heard about this stop of the “Walmart Cruelty Tour” through Facebook. Laviska, who described herself as an animal lover and vegan, said she decided to protest Walmart because it is possible to be humane when it comes to animals. It was her first protest and she hopes to continue to do more.
“I think people see us and understand,” Laviska said. “Some people were honking.”
Mercy for Animals will travel to Springfield, Mass., and then to New York, Vermont, Maine, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota and Missouri. The group intends to continue its tour until Walmart requires Christensen Farms to stop using gestation crates. Walmart did not respond to a request to respond to the issue.