By Dan Paden
Most of us — even those of us who eat meat — know that life on a factory farm is no picnic for animals. Chickens are crammed together with thousands of others inside dark sheds that reek of ammonia. Piglets are castrated without being given any painkillers. Terrified calves are torn away from their mothers within hours of birth.
Here’s what you may not know: While for most animals, this life of misery will end with a terrifying death in a slaughterhouse, many will be injured or killed in a traffic accident on their way to slaughter. That’s because the meat industry has a history of hiring drivers with records that read like rap sheets. And until industry officials enact strict safe-driver policies, all of us—humans and animals alike—are at risk.
Just last month, for example, a truck loaded with pigs ran off U.S. 258 in Isle of Wight County, Va. Several pigs were ejected, and 55 were killed. Others were left to suffer in the hours following the crash. PETA discovered that the driver involved in this accident has been charged with at least 15 traffic offenses in North Carolina since 1995, including reckless driving, speeding (five violations) and seeking to evade federal safety regulations.
Also last month, a tractor trailer carrying nearly 1,000 turkeys for a company called Circle S Ranch, Inc., crashed in Henry County, Va., killing hundreds of the birds. And again, PETA found that the driver had an abysmal driving record, including a conviction for driving while impaired and driving while his license was revoked. His past charges also include felony manufacture of a controlled substance.