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Animal Rights Activists Await Verdict in Smithfield Piglet Case

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“The agonizing screams of pigs confined to those cages were so loud we couldn’t hear one another talk,” Mr. Hsiung said. The 2 piglets they took on their way out, he said, were sick and malnourished and would have most probably ended up in a dumpster.

Jim Monroe, a Smithfield spokesman, said the corporate had largely phased out the usage of gestation crates and was committed to improving the welfare of the tens of thousands and thousands of pigs it raised annually. “Any deviation from our high standards for animal care is counterproductive to this mission,” he said in an email.

Richard Piatt, a spokesman for Sean Reyes, the Utah attorney general, said the defendants had invited prosecution by publicly posting evidence of a criminal offense. “Prosecutors feel there’s an obligation to acknowledge there was a burglary and theft,” he said.

Indeed, Mr. Hsiung, a lawyer and a founding father of DxE, has long embraced the type of guerrilla tactics he knows can garner public attention from sympathizers and law enforcement officials. He has been arrested greater than a dozen times in recent times, and he said he viewed the present trial as something of a teaching moment.

“My goal is more transparency, so the American public can really see how their food is produced,” he said.

It’s unclear whether the defendants have much support in Beaver County, a sparsely populated swath of high desert along the Nevada border where Smithfield is certainly one of the most important employers. Emotions there have been especially high since last summer, when the corporate announced it was planning to shut down most of its operations there. Executives have blamed the downsizing on what they’ve described as onerous regulations in California, where a lot of its pigs are processed.

In August, the judge granted a defense request to maneuver the trial to a bigger, adjoining county.

The jurors is not going to be deliberating the fate of the 2 stolen piglets. Now full-grown, the piglets, often called Lucy and Ethel, reside at an animal sanctuary in Utah. Based on activists, they’re doing just advantageous.

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