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August 16, 2013

The HSUS Sues Raleigh Transit Authority for Rejecting Bus Ads on Inhumane Pork Industry Practices

Transit Authority Refused to Run Ads Exposing the Inhumane Confinement of Sows in Gestation Crates in the Nation’s #2 Pork Producing State

The Humane Society of the United States filed a federal lawsuit today against the Raleigh Transit Authority for refusing to run advertisements that show pigs suffering in extreme confinement on factory farms.  North Carolina is the nation’s second-largest pork-producing state, yet the city of Raleigh has decided that citizens are not allowed to see images of gestation crates, an everyday practice in the pork industry.

The ads would have been featured on city buses and The HSUS has released identical ads without controversy in other major cities such as Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. The ads are part of a campaign to halt a common pork industry practice in which breeding pigs are virtually immobilized inside two-foot wide metal cages for essentially their entire lives. 

“The Raleigh Transit Authority cannot refuse to run this advertisement just because it is uncomfortable with showing the public how abused most breeding pigs in the pork industry are,” says Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president for animal protection litigation at The HSUS. “The Transit Authority is violating the First Amendment by censoring animal welfare messages, and depriving the citizens of Raleigh of information pertinent to their food purchases.”

The complaint, filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, alleges that the Raleigh Transit Authority violated The HSUS’ rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by rejecting, on the basis of its message, artwork and text submitted for an advertisement.

The complaint seeks a declaration that the Transit Authority’s rejection of the HSUS ad is unconstitutional and further seeks to enjoin the Transit Authority from refusing to run the ad.

The HSUS is represented pro bono in this case by Latham & Watkins LLP and Ellis & Winters LLP.

Facts

  • Nine U.S. states have passed laws to ban the gestation crate confinement of breeding pigs.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
  • Leading pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free. Meanwhile, many traditional family farmers have avoiding using gestation crates for generations.
  • In a 2013 survey by the National Pork Board, 53 percent of pork producers said they do not use gestation crates or plan to stop using them in favor of group housing of sows. 

Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518; awest@humanesociety.org

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