Groundbreaking Court Case Challenges Factory Farming Animal Confinement In California

Farm Sanctuary, the nation's leading farm animal shelter and advocacy organization, is challenging the intensive confinement of pigs in a landmark case. California Penal Code section 597t mandates that "every person who keeps an animal confined in an enclosed area shall provide it with an adequate exercise area." Farm Sanctuary filed a lawsuit in September 2004 against Corcpork, Inc., one of California's largest pig breeding facilities, for confining breeding sows in two foot wide "gestation crates" for the majority of their lives. The suit alleges that this intensive confinement fails to allow any exercise area at all, let alone an adequate exercise area, and violates Section 597t. In June 2005, the case was dismissed on a technicality and summary judgment was filed in August 2005. This week, Farm Sanctuary appealed the lower court's decision (court case number BC 321606), bringing the matter before the Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District.

Although pigs, like other animals, have a basic need to exercise and perform natural behaviors, Corcpork's sows are treated as pig producing units. They live an endless cycle of artificial insemination, pregnancy and nursing while confined in small metal cages barely larger than their bodies. The animals are prevented from walking, turning around or even lying down comfortably, and they are forced to stand on hard slatted floors with no bedding.

The merits of the case were not discussed at the lower court hearing, but that could change. Melissa Bonfiglio, an attorney representing Farm Sanctuary, stated, "We believe that Farm Sanctuary has standing to pursue this lawsuit, and look forward to appealing and working towards our goal of ending the inhumane confinement of breeding sows."

Numerous research studies conducted over the last 25 years have demonstrated that intensively confined sows experience a number of physical and psychological maladies. The unnatural flooring and lack of exercise causes obesity and crippling leg disorders, while the deprived environment produces neurotic coping behaviors. Farm Sanctuary President, Gene Bauston, states, "Agribusiness' cruel treatment of farm animals is out of line with consumer's sentiments. It is time for practices in the United States to more clearly reflect our cultural values and for inhumane factory farming practices to be prohibited."

About Farm Sanctuary
Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal protection organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the "food animal" industry through research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness projects, youth education, and direct rescue and refuge efforts. Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, NY and Orland, CA provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued animals, who have become ambassadors for farm animals everywhere by educating visitors about the realities of factory farming.

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