(KR) Pigs buried alive in grisly solution to foot-and-mouth
McClatchy-Tribune in Changmanri Feb 06, 2011
In this farming town an hour outside Seoul, the stalls sit eerily empty of
animals, helter-skelter hoof marks in the mud the only reminder of
The animals are dead, swept away by a fast-moving outbreak of foot-and-mouth
disease that began on November 29 and has seen the government come up with a
grisly solution to save money and time: burying pigs and other livestock
“Having to bury little baby pigs alive is … there’s no way to describe how
I suffered inside,” sobbed the wife of one farmer. “It still breaks my heart
to think or talk about what happened here.”
In tiny Changmanri, the mass culling has emptied six of the town’s seven
farms. From her home chapel, Presbyterian minister Lee Kyung-hee has
counselled distraught farm wives who compared burying the piglets alive to
killing their own children.
“We’ve lived here for 40 years,” she said. “We know these farmers. So you
can’t go around saying it’s their problem. It’s everyone’s problem.”
So far, more than two million pigs and 136,000 cows – 10 per cent of the
nation’s livestock – have been dumped into industrial-sized mass graves,
which are quickly ploughed over by bulldozers. Government officials
emphasise that only a quick response will beat the lethal airborne virus,
but the method of disposal has sparked international outrage.
Officials say many cows and farm-raised deer are injected first with
succinylcholine, a neuromuscular blocking drug used to euthanise livestock.
But animal rights advocates say the small doses administered merely paralyse
the animals rather than rendering them unconscious.The grim deaths have taken an emotional toll on this nation, where Buddhist
monks have held prayer sessions for the slaughtered animals. Many workers
involved in the culling have been treated for post-traumatic stress. Tourism
to affected areas has plummeted, as happened after a similar outbreak in
2001 in England’s Lake District, where officials slaughtered hundreds of
thousands of animals in a bid to stop the disease.
Government officials deny any cruelty but admit a shortage of drugs has led
to some live burials.
In recent weeks, thousands of people worldwide have signed an online
petition that claims South Korea’s culling violates an international
agreement the country signed guaranteeing the humane treatment of animals.
“Stop Burying Pigs Alive”, implores one internet petition, which has a photo
of a truck dumping hogs into a tarp-lined hole. Another shows earthmoving
equipment pushing dirt into a pit with scores of pigs.
“The cruel slaughter and live burial of pigs continues in clear violation of
the World Organisation for Animal Health Guidelines, which South Korea
endorsed five years ago,” the petition claims.
Lee Byoung-guan of the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service
said 127 foot-and-mouth cases have been confirmed on 7,500 farms. If one
animal becomes sick, all others within 500 yards are culled, ill or not. “We
had a problem with shortage of succinylcholine, but now that has been
solved,” Lee said, adding that the drug blocks the muscles for breathing,
Activists say the government has put monetary concerns over animal welfare.
With their thick subcutaneous fat, pigs require more of the drug, so workers
opt for cheaper methods.
“For 10 years we have asked the government to come up with a humane policy
for animal killing,” said Cho Heui-kyeong, director of the Korean Society
for Animal Freedom. “But whenever animal disease breaks out, these mass
burials of live animals are readily employed.”
Past SAV posts relating to this issue:
Care2 Petition link for this issue:
Please sign and voice your disgust with the LIVE burials !