Pennslylvania State Police Lt. Gregory Bacher said he had never seen an act of cruelty committed on this scale before in his life. And if the evil mastermind Daniel Clark is found, there is certain to be hell to pay.
Daniel Clark was a pig farmer in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. After a particularly acrimonious divorce, (in which I am guessing his wife likely cleaned him out for the value of his farm and livestock) Daniel just walked away. Behind him, in a remotely situated barn in the back of his property, he left 925 tightly-packed pigs without access to food or water. By the time that his ex-wife finally visited the farm and the alerted authorities, the pigs had all been dead at least three months.
Lt. Bacher, after 26 years in law enforcement, feels scarred.
Christian Herr, an executive vice president of PennAg Industries, says this was an illogical, sickening event. A criminal issue.
Gene Baur, the president of Farm Sanctuary, (a farm-animal rescue group) while discussing pigs’ intelligence and sensitivity, says “These pigs died a horrible death, struggling for freedom, and no one came to their rescue. There is absolutely no excuse for this unconscionable neglect, and the people responsible for this tragedy should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is on the case, documenting the evidence and getting all CSI about it. Their goal seems to be the same as everyone elses’, to see Daniel Clark pay for his act of evil neglect.
Dennis Bumbaugh, who works at a local animal shelter and was one of the people called in to help dispose of the carcasses, said, “I want to see justice for what happened in that building,” Bumbaugh said Monday. “I and the ASPCA had our hands on those animals. It’s personal.”
The town of Harrisburg is up in arms, and Clark is nowhere to be found. But I have to wonder… with all this concern and emotion and brouhaha surround these unfortunate pigs and their admittedly grisly fate, has anyone stopped to consider exactly how much worse off they were from their planned end?
The pigs died of dehydration, and that sucks. No fun, and no equivocating. But before that, when they were getting cared for just “fine”, they were being housed in tiny pens in a warehouse style “barn”, where they couldn’t turn around or even lay down without extreme discomfort, (and despite the common misconception, given the choice, no animal will willingly rest in their own feces) in the heat and ungodly stink, (pigs have much more sensitive noses than we do, and are naturally repelled by the smell of their own waste — and consider that even after 3 months of nearly a thousand dead pigs on the property, it was not the smell that tipped anyone off that something was wrong) and that they would have met their end in white-eyed terror listening to the squeals of their bretheren being killed in front of them.
Now, lest you think I am attacking the pork industry at large, let me say here that I am not. I couldn’t do what they do, nor would I ever wish for that onerous capacity. Nor do I patronize the purveyors of pigflesh. I happen to believe that most Americans eat far more red meat than is healthy for them, and I have some sustainability issues with pork and beef land-use policies. However, according to laws of the land they have the right to do what they do. They have the right to fairly barbarically raise too many animals in too little space and treat them in ways most of us on “the outside” would never even dream of. It is my personal belief that it is important to recognize and face our society’s dark corners, if for no other reason than to better understand the world around us and our place in making it happen. Pig farming is most often torture for the animals. War, no matter how sanctioned by the government that sends you, is still murder. I would never think less of an individual for following their heart and acting in the ways they were taught. Eat bacon, join the army. It’s all good. But it’s no reason to shrink away from uncomfortable truths and retreat into the land of the hazy and comfortable euphemism.
Those 925 pigs had lives you or I would likely not have considered a better alternative to suicide. Dehydration is not a great way to go, but given the choice between that and their “future”, I’m not convinced that Daniel Clark did a bad thing.