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Group Files Suit Against State Fair for Pregnant Pig Exhibits

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There’s pretty much nothing cuter than a freshly born piglet, but one group says the environment that piglet is being born into at the California State Fair is nothing to squeal about – and has filed a lawsuit.

“California law requires that every animal be given adequate area for exercise, it’s basic necessity for animals and humans,” said Carter Dillard, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s attorney.

The group says the farrowing crates the sows are giving birth in are too small and too loud, trapped in the confines of Cal Expo.

“The animals are really unable to move and they’re there not only to give birth in this traps on public display, and they are there for three or more weeks while shouting and boisterous fair goers are gawking at them, and it’s simply a violation of California law,” Dillard said.

State Fair veterinarians say the suit is hogwash, and that these crates protect both mom and piglet.

“It helps us provide for the sow, to maintain her temperature – a cool temperature in this very warm environment – and then provide for the warmth and safety of the pigs,” said Dr. Jean Rowe.

Rowe says the crate also makes it easier for vets to keep piglets from getting squished by a mom tired after giving birth.

“This choice of housing environment provides for the best safety of the mother, for us to be able to attend her birth and for us to be able to provide for the safety of the piglets,” Rowe said.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has successfully petitioned other fairs to change their methods to give animals both big and small the space they need.

The suit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court. The animal legal defense fund hopes to have a hearing before the end of the state fair.

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1 Comment

  • ericmills

    FARROWING CRATES ARE ILLEGAL! California Penal Code 597t (enacted in 1970) states, in part:

    "Every person who keeps an animal confined in an enclosed area shall provide it with an adequate exercise area." Farm animals are NOT exempted.

    Under more normal conditions an expectant sow would seek out a quiet, secluded place to build a nest for herself and her piglets. Most natural behaviors are stymied by the farrowing crates. The sows cannot turn around, can barely move at all, and forced to give birth on a metal grid with ZERO bedding–a true "crime against nature." Do this to a dog, go to jail.

    And UC Davis Vet School (which oversees the animal nursery) should practice what it preaches. ALL vet studies I've seen (including UCD's) advise against transporting pregnant animals about to give birth. Other studies document that the piglet mortality rate is nearly identical, farrowing crates vs. open pens.

    To my knowledge, NO California county fair features farrowing crates. They have large, straw-filled pens, with the sow and her piglets (born off-site) free to come and go at will.

    The pigs at our (our!) State Fair deserve no less. The Fair Board has received more than 3,000 letters, emails and petition signatures in favor of the proposed humane changes. This ain't rocket science. Let's make the California State Fair the most humane in the nation.

    And if the Fair management won't do the obvious, perhaps the State Legislature will. All legislators may be written c/o The State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814. Contact your reps.

    Eric Mills, coordinator
    email – afa@mcn.org