Animal welfare group joins school pig row


An animal welfare organisation has entered the row over the fate of a pet pig that was sent to slaughter by West Rise Junior School.

Peta (People for the ethical treatment of animals) has argued that children deserved to have seen the meat processing system in its entirety, after reading the Herald’s coverage of the demise of Marmite the piglet.

The animal had been donated to the school by resident Ria Dell, who homed it there after it became lonely living in her garden. But despite regular visits to her four-legged friend, she was left dismayed at her pet’s untimely despatch – which the school said was due to the young hog becoming aggressive towards other pigs kept on its site. It had allegedly tried to bite one of the children at the school.

As a result, West Rise had sent it for slaughter after its farm manager attempted to offer the animal for re-homing at a number of local farms.

Associate director of Peta, Mimi Bekhechi, felt children should be shown conditions in a slaughter house in light of this case.

She said, “Children are inherently compassionate to animals, and most would no doubt be shocked and disgusted to see animals, particularly those they have cared for and grown close to, having their throats slit for the fleeting taste of a hamburger or strip of bacon.

“If West Rise truly wants to teach children about farming, the students should be allowed to watch as the pig is reduced from a trusting young individual to a collection of his or her parts.”

While the organisation did not raise any issue with the conditions which Marmite had been kept in, it added that the majority of pigs raised for commercial consumption faced ‘a life of suffering,’ in crowded factory farms.

Responding to Peta’s invitation, Mike Fairclough, head teacher of West Rise Junior School believed that it had behaved entirely appropriately and that the pet pig had been formally transferred into its ownership.

He said, “Taking children to a slaughter house is not something that we would do as a school. I think that would be unnecessary, though it is a kind offer from the animal charity.

“Meat is on the menu at the school, which children eat every day. They know that it comes from animals and learning about food is something that is already on the curriculum.”