Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Cal Expo and University of California for Mistreating Pigs at State FairPosted on July 18, 2013
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Illegal Confinement of Farrowing Pigs without Adequate Exercise Triggers Lawsuit
SACRAMENTO—Today, the Bay Area-based national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court against the California State Exposition and Fairs (Cal Expo) and the University of California Board of Regents for illegally confining pregnant and nursing pigs in the Livestock Nursery Exhibit at the California State Fair. Filed on behalf of state taxpayers, including pregnant and nursing mothers, the lawsuit contends that pregnant, birthing, and nursing pigs are displayed in body-gripping “farrowing crates” for three weeks every year, where they are unable to walk, turn around, or stand comfortably, in violation of California’s state anti-cruelty laws. The exhibition is held at the Sacramento Fairgrounds in collaboration between Cal Expo, a state agency, and the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, which receives millions of taxpayer dollars annually. The fair runs from July 12-28, 2013.
California’s anti-cruelty laws protect a wide range of animals, including farmed animals. These laws, particularly California Penal Code sections 597(a) and 597t, mandate adequate exercise for confined animals and prohibit their needless suffering. ALDF’s lawsuit asserts that mother pigs are purposefully transported in the final days of pregnancy so that they will give birth while on display at the State Fair. The pigs are immediately placed in farrowing crates upon arrival at the fair, up to a mere five feet from spectators, which causes undue stress on mothers whose instinct is to isolate while nursing.
According to the lawsuit, humane alternatives to the intense confinement of farrowing sows are readily available, like the ones utilized at the Alameda County Fair, which allow pigs to give birth off-site, and keep the pigs in open pens that permit exercise, nest building, and comfort. Before becoming CEO of Cal Expo, Rick Pickering used these alternatives at the Alameda County Fair. ALDF is asking the court to enforce state law, which would effectively bar the transport of pigs during the final two weeks of their pregnancy and mandate the provision of adequate exercise for the confined pigs.
“Californians can be proud of our intent to protect the health and well-being of farmed animals,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The State Fair should be a celebration of what is best about California—but the intense confinement of pregnant and nursing pigs does not reflect our laws or the values of our citizens.”
Copies of the lawsuit are available by request. The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit aldf.org.