London Humane Society joins fight against gestation stalls

by 5m Editor
19 January 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Together with allies in Winnipeg and Vancouver, the society is campaigning to outlaw dry sow stalls in intensive pork operations at the same time as its inspectors investigate complaints on farms.

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Take me to the ARSP website. The cash-strapped London Humane Society, whose inspectors respond to complaints about cruelty to animals in rural Middlesex County and have the power to obtain and use search warrants, is supporting a lobby to outlaw dry sow stalls in intensive pork operations. The London Humane Society is a member of an organization called the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA), which is headquartered in Vancouver and is campaigning to outlaw gestation stalls for dry sows and battery cages for laying hens. Other supporters of the coalition include the Vancouver and Winnipeg Humane Societies. Crystal MacKay, communications specialist at Ontario Pork, was surprised that the London Humane Society was involved in this campaign. She thinks this group is attempting to bring the successful Florida ban on dry sow stalls to Canada.

Robert Van Tongerloo, executive director the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), says the Vancouver Humane Society is recognized as an animal rights organization and has no animal control or shelter powers. The Winnipeg Humane Society has no powers to investigate farms in Manitoba.

The summer newsletter from the London Humane Society describes the use of metal stalls as causing "great stress," says pigs are "fed a steady diet of antibiotics, hormones and steroids," and concludes that agricultural codes of practice "are not subject to enforcement, and they endorse some of the cruelest farming practices in existence."

Even though the London Humane Society is against intensive agriculture, Mike Draper, the head inspector for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), says London inspectors can still investigate complaints at farms. Inspectors are responsible to the OSPCA and not to the humane society that hired them, he says.

Henry Aukema of Strathroy, president of the Middlesex County Pork Producers, thinks campaigners against sow stalls may be misguided. "My experience with sows in group pens is that you get quite a lot of fighting. That's not humane either.

But Manitoba Hogwatch president Fred Tait disagrees with the use of gestation stalls. "As a farmer, I'm not comfortable with it," says the Portage La Prairie cattle producer. Tait describes Hogwatch, an organization which opposes expansion of the pork industry, as a "wide-based coalition" of environmental, humane and local interests. Hogwatch wants gestation stalls for sows banned in Manitoba by 2013.

Tait says the gestation crate "made it possible to take hogs away from farmers and make (pork production) an investment for investors and corporations." The gestation crate "removes the labour requirement and the management requirement so that you can put thousands and thousands of sows in a single confined system."

Source: Don Stoneman - Atlantic Swine Research Partnership - 16th January 2004
©PEI Pork

5m Editor