- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2006

NORFOLK (AP) — The state has rejected two proposed markers near the sites of fatal crashes, contending that the memorials are for people, not pigs.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) proposed the signs, each at a cost of $300, in memory of hogs that were killed on the way to slaughter at Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest hog processor.

State law allows such memorials for human victims of fatal highway crashes.

The PETA request initially confused officials.

“When we talked, it was my understanding that you were speaking about family members,” MacFarland Neblett, Virginia Department of Transportation official, wrote in a letter to PETA.

The signs were to read: “99 pigs died here because of driver negligence Please drive with caution. PETA.”

PETA wanted to put the state signs in Suffolk, where hogs were killed in a March 2004 wreck, and in Isle of Wight County, the site of two fatal hog-truck crashes.

Each year, there are several wrecks along Virginia roads involving hog trucks headed to the packing plants in Smithfield.

PETA appealed to state Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer. Through Tamara Neale, a VDOT spokeswoman, Mr. Homer said no, as well.

“The secretary’s office will not support an exception for these signs,” Miss Neale said Wednesday.

Dan Paden, a PETA researcher in the Domestic Animal and Wildlife Rescue Department, said the memorial signs could have made people stop and think, or at least slow down.

“The state has erected many signs showing the way to this slaughterhouse in Smithfield,” Mr. Paden told the Virginian-Pilot, which is published in Norfolk. “It’s a shame they won’t allow two reminding drivers to be careful.”

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