It’s common to hear North American animal lovers express their horror at cultures that find eating dogs or cats acceptable. And, indeed, it is repulsive to see these sensitive, intelligent animals abused and raised for slaughter.
But two recent stories in the news highlight a double standard in attitudes about animals killed for food — at least for those who eat meat.
Media in the United Kingdom and around the world have been raving about the accomplishments of Louie the pig, who has amazed and amused the British public by learning how to compete in dog agility competitions. Louie has demonstrated intelligence and trainability on a par with his canine friends.
Meanwhile, two Dutch pigs called Rudi and Felix, are making a claim to fame for their therapy work in seniors’ homes — a role also usually associated with service dogs. Again, media have lapped up the heartwarming story of clever and gentle pigs showing off their talent.
Of course, the intelligence of pigs has been well-established in scientific studies, and, like other animals, they can feel pain and suffer.
Yet pigs endure some of the worst treatment of animals raised for food. Hog barns house up to 5,000 pigs in crowded pens. Stress from overcrowding creates aggression and boredom, so most pigs have their tails cut off to prevent tail-biting. Breeding sows are confined for almost their entire reproductive lives in stalls that are just slightly bigger than the sows themselves. They eat, sleep, and defecate in the same space; their manure falls through slatted floors to a cesspool beneath.
So the next time you hear someone who loves bacon telling you how appalled they are about dogs being eaten in Korea, remind them of how we abuse, slaughter and eat intelligent, sensitive pigs by the million right here at home.