Anyone who has a dog should understand the gravity of the cruelty involved in much industrial hog-farming:
The stress, crowding and contamination inside confinement buildings foster disease, especially respiratory illnesses. In addition to toxic fumes, bacteria, yeast and molds have been recorded in swine buildings at a level more than 1,000 times higher than in normal air. To prevent disease outbreaks (and to stimulate faster growth), the hog industry adds more than 10 million pounds of antibiotics to its feed, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates. This mountain of drugs a staggering three times more than all antibiotics used to treat human illnesses is a grim yardstick of the wretchedness of these facilities.
There are other reasons that merely phasing out gestation crates does not go nearly far enough. Keeping animals in such barren environments is a serious deprivation. Pigs in nature are active, curious creatures that typically spend 10 hours a day foraging, rooting and roaming.
Veterinarians consider pigs as smart as dogs. Imagine keeping a dog in a tight cage or crowded pen day after day with absolutely nothing to chew on, play with or otherwise occupy its mind. Americans would universally denounce that as inhumane. Extreme boredom is considered the main reason pigs in confinement are prone to biting one another's tails and engaging in other aggressive behavior.
One day, future generations may see this as one of the great indictments of our society. I'm not sure the author's recommendations are feasible - insisting that animal cruelty laws be applied to farm animals may be too big a step to take all at once. But some way for consumers to judge how humanely their pig products have been produced - mandatory warning labels for factory-farmed bacon, for example - could achieve some good. Also: much, much more media focus. Here is a story that rips your heart out - for good reason.