Undercover video shows alleged abuse at pig farm

Undercover video shows alleged abuse at pig farm »Play Video
Warning: This story contains graphic content.

SEATTLE -- Disturbing undercover video released by an animal rights group alleges animal cruelty at one of the nation's largest pig farms.

The video shows piglets being tossed like footballs, sows housed in cages not much bigger than their bodies and pigs covered in ruptures and sores.

Animal rights group Mercy for Animals shot undercover video at Iowa Select Farms, which sells its pork to Costco. The group claims the treatment of animals seen in the footage is unacceptable.

Dr. Howard Hill of Iowa Select Farms told KOMO News tossing piglets like hot potatoes and dumping them into crates are violations of company policy.

Yet an Iowa Select worker is seen justifying the acts in the undercover video.

"Throwing pigs -- it's like a roller-coaster ride for piglets," the worker said.

Mercy for Animals says it uncovered a string of alleged abuse, from pigs writhing in pain with open sores and sows with bulging painful ruptures, to a piglet that was reportedly euthanized with a whack to the cement floor.

"Our policy is that the animals would be handled in a gentle fashion, be supported and handed from one employee to another rather than any kind of tossing," said Hill.

Iowa Select Farms says it is investigating, but insists the only glaring wrongdoing seen in the footage is the tossing of piglets. Everything else, the farm said, has been taken out of context. Pigs are put down quickly and humanely, the farm added.

"We have a zero tolerance for any kind of animal abuse," Hill said.

A spokesman for Costco, which stocks pork from Iowa Select Farms, said the company is appalled by portions of the video.

"It shouldn't be tolerated. It just shouldn't be tolerated," said Craig Wilson, Costco's vice president of quality assurance and food safety. "The tossing of piglets bothered me. The euthanasia of the one piglet was, I think, was inappropriate."

Wilson is demanding the farm put an end to the practices. He says although Costco audits never found any animal abuse, the retailer will determine whether it needs to enhance its monitoring process.

When asked whether the company would consider ending its relationship with Iowa Select Farms, Wilson said, "You're not going to make the industry better if you do that."

Mercy for Animals is calling on all stores to stop selling pork from the farm in question. The group also want the farm to make its gestation crates bigger or get rid of them altogether.

Iowa Select said its employees are trained and certified, and any employee found abusing animals will be fired.