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First Amendment Fight Brews in NC

Photo: HSHS bus wrap ads publicizing gestation crate concerns in Washington, DC. Courtesy: HSUS
Photo: HSHS bus wrap ads publicizing gestation crate concerns in Washington, DC. Courtesy: HSUS
August 19, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. - The Raleigh Transit Authority is not "on board" with ads the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wants to run. The Humane Society wants to publicize its concerns over the use of gestation crates by some industrial pig farmers in the state. Raleigh Transit denied the application for the ads and now the society has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the transit system is violating its First Amendment rights.

Kim Alboum, HSUS North Carolina state director, said the ads were denied because they were too "negative." However, she said, "These ads are the reality. These sows live in gestation crates for four years of their lives, and they are cruel. They're one of the cruelest practices in the animal industry."

The ads - which already have run in Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. - point out the health and welfare concerns for the animals kept in such tight spaces.

A spokesperson for Raleigh Transit said the city does not comment on lawsuits.

Several large retailers, including McDonald's and Burger King, have announced they are no longer buying pork produced using gestation crates; Smithfield Foods and Hormel Foods are phasing out the practice at their company-owned facilities by 2017. Alboum said that while use of gestation crates declines, consumers should understand why it is important.

"From a corporate standpoint, we're seeing the use of gestation crates beginning to be phased out, which is fantastic. We want to bring awareness so that consumers can make the choice to buy from the facilities that are no longer using them."

North Carolina is the second largest pork-producing state in the nation. Nine states have banned the use of gestation crates.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC