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Allegation of cruelty sparks raid at piggery
By Luke Elliot
A WA piggery was raided by police and other authorities yesterday amid claims some pigs at the facility had eaten others which had died in the pens, animals had been forced to wallow in filth so deep they struggled to walk and they had been left to die slowly once illness took hold.
The police stock squad and local government, health, agriculture and immigration officials raided the piggery after a complaint from an animal welfare group. The piggery is not identified for legal reasons.
"The allegations that were raised to us were viewed exceptionally seriously by police and local government authorities, they are on the upper scale of animal abuse through management practices," stock squad officer-in-charge Det-Sgt David Byrne said. "We have not come across, on this inspection, anything of a similar nature . . . but a review of the footage has caused great concern and needs to be investigated further."
The group, Animal Rights Advocates, contacted Department of Local Government and Regional Development animal welfare inspectors after receiving a video allegedly filmed by a former employee of the piggery.
It allegedly shows dozens of pigs standing in a muddy cocktail of straw, feed and animal waste. Some appear to be disabled by a crippling disease that causes swelling on the limbs and makes walking difficult or impossible.
The footage also allegedly shows sick pigs which have been left to die outside the main pen area. Under industry regulations, dying animals should be euthanized as soon as possible to prevent suffering.
Some pigs were also allegedly captured on video gorging on carcasses of pigs which had died in the pens.
The raid was launched to investigate whether the piggery's operators had breached the 2002 Animal Welfare Act.
The piggery's operator did not return calls from The West Australian.
National industry group Australian Pork Limited chief executive Andrew Spencer said he was aware authorities were investigating animal welfare issues at the piggery but did not have details of the allegations. He stressed that animal welfare was very important to the industry.
Pig farms wanting to obtain Australian pork industry quality program accreditation, regarded as a major trade advantage, must be subjected to random, independent inspections. About 80 per cent of WA pig farmers have accreditation, the highest level in Australia.
Sgt Byrne said police would continue to investigate the allegations, including concerns raised on the video and the inspection history at the piggery, to determine whether charges would be laid.
An Animal Rights Advocates spokeswoman refused to comment specifically on the case but said the treatment of pigs was a major concern for the organisation.