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February 3, 2017

Animal safety at issue as Ontario barn fire kills 4,000 pigs

Lack of basic protection results in huge, possibly preventable loss of life

Humane Society International/Canada

  • The lack of safety features in barns, such as sprinklers and smoke detectors, also puts first responders at risk. Bradley Murray/istock

A large barn fire east of Sarnia, Ontario – its cause as yet unknown – has resulted in the death of 4,000 pigs. Humane Society International/Canada is again calling on government, both federal and provincial, to implement urgently needed safety measures that can mitigate and even help prevent such tragedies.

Gabriel Wildgen, campaign manager for HSI/Canada, stated:

“The loss of animal life in largely preventable barn fires is deeply disturbing. The animals would have experienced terror and suffering before their deaths, which raises the question: could this tragedy have been averted? Urgent safety updates are woefully lacking – building and fire codes should require that all barns that house animals be safe for occupancy. Right now, most of these facilities aren’t even fitted with basic features like smoke detectors and sprinkler systems, despite housing hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of animals.

“What’s more, farm animals are not commodities – they are living, breathing, feeling beings that are as sensitive to pain and fear as our beloved pets. Sadly, the deaths of these animals are often treated as little more than a financial loss. Hundreds of thousands of farm animals die annually in Canadian barn fires, and that’s wrong. Authorities must take immediate action to protect animals in our care from preventable deaths.” 

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  • This is the latest in a string of recent and similar tragedies. In early 2016 a fire in a Quebec duck barn killed 50,000 animals on New Year’s Day.
  • The lack of safety features in barns, such as sprinklers and smoke detectors, also puts first responders at risk.
  • Forty-three racehorses were killed in a fire at Classy Lane Training Centre in Puslinch, Ontario on Jan. 4, 2016.
  • That same month, fire claimed the lives of more than 2,000 pigs and caused $1.1 million in damage to a farm near Parkhill, northwest of London (Ontario)
  • On Feb. 25 (also 2016), 50 cows and 20 calves were killed in a barn fire on Concession 12 in Brockton, near Walkerton (Ontario).

Media Contact: Christopher Pare, 514 395-2914, cell: 438 402-0643, cpare@hsi.org

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