CRETE, Neb. (AP) — An animal rights group is demanding a criminal investigation because 91 pigs died at a Smithfield Foods plant in Nebraska after being exposed to extremely cold temperatures while waiting to be unloaded from trucks in February.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group sent a letter to the Saline County Sheriff’s office Thursday with a copy of a USDA report on the deaths at the Smithfield plant in Crete.
The report, which started with a tip from PETA, details how 91 pigs died on Feb. 15-16 on trucks delivering animals to the pork plant. At the time, temperatures fell as low as 27 degrees below zero, and at least 40 trucks sat for more than an hour before the animals were unloaded into a heated barn.
Sheriff Alan Moore didn’t immediately respond to a message Thursday about the complaint.
Smithfield officials also didn’t immediately respond Thursday to questions about the deaths of the pigs.
PETA said it believes Smithfield could be charged under a 2010 state law that prohibits intentional abandonment, neglect or cruel treatment of livestock animals.
“Leaving pigs for extended periods on trucks to incur large, painful frostbite injuries and endure a prolonged death are not the commonly accepted practices of commercial livestock operations that are otherwise exempt from prosecution,” PETA investigator Colin Henstock wrote in his letter to the sheriff.