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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Peer pressure

Published 03/27/09
By Diana Oliver, Development Associate

Recently, I watched HBO’s Death on a Factory Farm documentary about animal cruelty at the Wiles Farms hog factory in Ohio and the undercover investigation by the Humane Farming Association that helped bring them to court.

As I sat down to watch my Tivoed version of it I clutched my couch pillow tightly knowing I was in for some gruesome footage. I knew I might have to fast forward the difficult scenes or mute the TV in some instances but I also really wanted to know what the outcome was of this trial.

I was so grossed out by the footage that I cried and almost vomited. They showed footage of a pig being hung by its neck documenting that the poor animal struggled for 45 minutes before death. They showed them throwing pigs around by their ears and feet.

I thought for sure with that kind of undercover footage, prosecutors would be able to get a guilty verdict but that wasn’t the case at all. I did notice the look that the farm owner was giving the judge as if to say, “Look, Stuart, I’ve known you for 25 years and I hope I can count on you as my friend.”

As the reporters covering the case interviewed courtroom attendees, I also noticed the majority were farmers. They also stared down the judge as if to say, “Come on, Stuart, we’ve all known each other our whole lives. Are you really going to charge them with animal cruelty?” It was so intense I think I may have seen the judge nervous or worried.

The case outcome was extremely disappointing because out of the 10 criminal charges of animal cruelty, Judge Miller gave Wiles Farms a $250 fine and one-year probation to Joe Wiles. Was it peer pressure? I think so.

Blogging off,


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