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People Protesting Pig Plan

March 31, 1992

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) _ A plan to burn 74 pigs this week to test a federal animal quarantine center has been postponed after protests by animal welfare groups.

The U.S. Agriculture Department wanted to test its incinerator to make sure it met new state emissions standards. The hogs were to have been killed, then fed to the flames.

The 300-pound pigs were purchased this month at the Ocala Livestock Market for $7,740. They’ve been kept at the Harry S. Truman Animal Import Center, just off Key West on Navy-owned Fleming Key, which is connected to Key West by a bridge.

The federal government keeps imported llamas, cattle, water buffalo and other animals until it’s clear they’re disease-free.

The quarantine around the center is strictly maintained - USDA spokesman Alan Zagler calls it ″bio-security.″

If an animal is diseased or just dies from the shock of transport, it gets burned in the incinerator to make no sure no germs survive.

The 74 pig are simply sacrificial for the incinerator test. But protests from animal welfare groups caused the plan to be put off Friday.

The government is under pressure to test the incinerator quickly, said Zagler, spokesman for the USDA’s Animal and Plan Inspection Service. The emissions standards take effect July 1 and a shipment of French swine is expected to arrive soon for a 90-day stay at the center.

He said the pigs might still be used, but he’s looking for other options. The plan was still on hold Tuesday.

″Why couldn’t they just use cancerous cows,″ said Billie Humbert, a county animal control manager. ″That would have been a better alternative.″

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