Each year a different animal is associated with the year according to Chinese zodiac. Each animal is aligned with an earth element and yin or yang, as well as a prediction of what the year will hold. What if instead of focusing on what it means for our future, we instead focused on helping pigs obtain a better life around the world!
2019 is the year of the pig. The pig represents fortune, honesty, happiness and virility. “Their chubby faces and big ears are signs of fortune as well,” states ChineseNewYear.Net. The site delves into the personality, compatibility and careers for people born in a “pig year”. Although this information can be entertaining, the actual animal is not the focus.
Pigs are intelligent animals – some say smarter than dogs – that deserve to be treated with respect. While their eyesight may not be the best, their sense of smell makes up for it. They use their adorable snouts to root for food underground as well. Although pigs come off as slow moving, they can actually run a mile in seven minutes, something I cannot do.
Pigs are social animals that love to communicate and be close to one another. “When kept in a group they will snuggle close to one another, and prefer to sleep nose-to-nose. Studies have also shown that, much like humans, they dream,” states The Pig Site.
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While pigs have so much to offer and are obviously sentient animals, millions of them are kept on farms, “locked in gestation crates the width and length of their bodies, unable to even turn around,” states The Humane Society Of The United States (HSUS).
“Pigs are among the most intensively confined and harshly handled species in animal agriculture, and there is a desperate need to raise the bar for their housing, care, and treatment throughout the industry,” states HSUS.
The confined space is just the start of the problems with factory farming of pigs. Poor air quality, lack of individual care, concrete floors and stress all impact their lives. “Handling and transport for slaughter are highly stressful procedures, and some pigs become so fatigued, injured, or sick that they become non-ambulatory, unable to stand and walk on their own accord.” HSUS is working on improving farm factory conditions for all animals, including pigs.
An experimental farm associated with Oxford University in the United Kingdom is testing new ideas for pig farming. With animal welfare as the focus, they are “incorporating environmental enrichment and greater freedom of movement into new, commercially viable production methodology.” Sadly, the method has not been accepted by the industry.
Change will not happen until pigs are viewed as the sentient animals they are, and not at an object of production. You can help by changing some of your actions. Since it is the year of the pig, consider adding “Meatless Monday” to your resolutions, or take it a step farther and give up meat all together.
Winston Churchill simply stated, “Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.” Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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