In the wake of Hurricane Florence, countless North Carolina families have packed up their most valuable belongings and evacuated their homes in the interest of their own safety. Most fleeing residents with pets have done everything in their power to bring their dogs, cats, and other animal companions with them or, if doing so wasn’t possible, arranged for them to go somewhere safe during the storm.
On the contrary, the millions of animals trapped inside of North Carolina’s factory farm operations haven’t been given this very basic right to be protected from a horrific death by drowning.
Rather than being treated like the living creatures they are and evacuated along with the majority of the humans and pets in the path of Hurricane Florence, livestock have remained confined inside metal cages with no chance to escape as the state has experienced extreme flooding.
These photos were shared by Woodstock Farm Sanctuary via Steve Helber of the AP, and they illustrate the state that factory farms have been left in. Woodstock writes, “There are nine million pigs across the state, babies living their entire lives inside giant sheds. Mothers in metal cages, unable to save themselves or their piglets.”
At one of the state’s industrial meat production facilities, Sanderson Farms, a whopping 1.7 million chickens have already died, and this number is expected to continue climbing and to include pigs and turkeys as well as flooding persists and farmers remain unable to access the buildings where the surviving animals are stuck suffering without adequate food and water.
This is an absolute tragedy, yet instead of being regretful regarding the massive loss of animal life, all the company seems to be concerned with is how much money it will lose. In a press release, Sanderson Farms described the millions of dead chickens as being “destroyed as a result of flooding,” as if they were disposable objects rather than living, breathing beings.
For this factory farming operation and the numerous others across the state that left countless livestock to drown or starve to death during the storm, innocent farm animals losing their lives is simply seen as a financial loss.
As Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary described the upsetting situation in a Facebook post, “Sad but predictable … Farm animals are the most abused of all, and there wasn’t even an effort to relocate them, which would have been logistically difficult.”
He went on, “At the very least, factory farms should not be located in areas prone to flooding, and tax dollars should [not] be used to reimburse this cruel industry, which ironically and wrongly opened their statement by announcing that they didn’t experience loss of life in the wake of the storm. Please note, chickens and other farm animals are living animals, and their deaths very much represent a loss of life.”
We couldn’t agree more. Quite frankly, it’s difficult for us to fathom how people can be so nonchalant about animals dying en masse. But then again, these creatures would have eventually met a cruel fate at the slaughterhouse even if they hadn’t died in a flood. It’s difficult to say which is worse.
Try as we might to ignore it, the unpleasant reality is that our insatiable appetite for meat and dairy is what is fueling this inhumane industry. The huge demand for cheap animal protein in the U.S. has led to the rise of factory farming and the resultant disturbing treatment of animals as commodities rather than as the intelligent, precious beings they truly are. We also have to acknowledge the horrific irony that industrial animal agriculture contributes immensely to climate change, which is making these huge storms more frequent and powerful, and sadly, in every scenerio, it is the animals who pay the worst price.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. We can all help dismantle this industry and bring about a more sustainable and humane future by swapping out meat and dairy for plant-based alternatives.
To learn all about how ditching animal products can create a better world for everyone, check out the #EatForThePlanet book.
Image Source: Woodstock Farm Sanctuary/Facebook