Approximately 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 pigs have perished on factory farms during the Hurricane Florence flooding last week in North Carolina, according to the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Unlike companion animals, who by law must be included in government evacuation plans during natural disasters, farmed animals are not given legal protections. In evacuation efforts prior to the storm, farm animals were left to drown in cages and crates while farmers fled for safety. “Farm animals are the most abused of all creatures, and there wasn’t even an effort to relocate them, which would have been logistically difficult,” Farm Sanctuary President Gene Baur said. “Please note, chickens and other farm animals are living animals, and their deaths very much represent a loss of life.” Efforts from animal-rights organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Skylands Animal Sanctuary & Rescue, are underway to rescue animals that are still alive. “We’re up against a very powerful industry that has the law on its side,” Daniel Turbert, vegan activist and founder of The Sentient Project, who is documenting rescue efforts, said on his Facebook page. “We know, and we understand, that no matter how the law decides to label some animals as livestock and others as pets, all animals feel the same pains, joys, sorrows, and, most importantly, love. Something all sentient creatures, including humans, are entitled to.” Turbert shared a photo of a young pig, who he said “desperately needs medical attention,” before revealing that his rescue team was unable to save the injured animal as farmers descended after the storm to return animals to their farms. “All we could do was watch them take her from us, to be brought back to the very industry that profits off the use of her body for a very unnecessary food source,” Turbert said. “I hope people think.”

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