Created on: March 01, 2013 Last Updated: March 06, 2013
A group of activists are traveling across the U.S. protesting in front of Walmart stores over the company's doing business with companies that mistreat their pigs kept in factory farms.
The group, called Mercy for Animals, is currently embarking on a 117-stop trip protest in front of various Walmart stores in numerous states, carrying with them a 10-foot inflatable pig enclosed in a tiny cage and covered in blood and sores.
Los Angeles, California-based Mercy for Animals is hoping their demonstrations raise and spread awareness over the mistreatment of pigs in Walmart suppliers' factory farms. It is alleged that the farmers keep pregnant pigs enclosed in tiny gestation cages and the animals cannot move and, as a result, develop "crippling leg deformities" while imprisoned in the cages which sit on hard concrete.
"Walmart continues to sell pork from factory farms that use these cages," said Phil Letten, the organization's national campaign coordinator, reported Alabama Live. "The hidden cost of Walmart's cheap pork is egregious animal abuse. At numerous Wal-Mart suppliers, we documented pregnant pigs confined to filthy metal crates that are so small that they cannot turn around and are barely able to move for their entire lives."
The Los Angeles group also hopes that by spreading awareness, the retail giant will switch to suppliers that run farms which promote more humane practices towards their pigs. Letten pointed out some Walmart competitors, such as Costco, Kroger and Safeway, have ceased doing business with pork suppliers that practice the crate method of farming.
Last year footage was reportedly secretly made from a farm that is described as one of Walmart's major suppliers. The video showed fly-infested and filthy cages, with no room for the pregnant pigs to even turn around or lay down comfortably. The organization described the pigs as also not having any mental stimulation and overall having a very poor quality of life. A website was created to bring awareness to this issue and the site describes other cruel pig treatments by suppliers.
"This is a complicated issue and there are different points of view," Walmart spokesperson Danit Marquardt said in a statement run by several media outlets. "We hold our suppliers to the highest standards and do not tolerate animal mistreatment."
Currently, Mercy for Animals demonstrators are showing up in cities in the U.S. southeast. They are approximately mid-way through a 3-month tour, said the group's blog. To date, over 40 cities have been visited as the group makes its way across the country.
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