BENTON TOWNSHIP — All they are saying is give pigs a chance.

Following a semi truck accident June 26 in Benton Township in which 10 pigs died, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to erect a billboard near the accident site, declaring “I’m Me, Not Meat,” and “See the Individual – Go Vegan,” with a photo of a pig.

“PETA is hoping to remind people that pigs are sensitive and intelligent, they feel pain and enjoy companionship, and they don’t want to die,” explained Sadie Buckles, a campaign coordinator for the animal rights organization. A location or date when the billboard would go up has not yet been decided, she said.

The semi carrying 130 pigs overturned when the load shifted while the driver was making a left-hand turn onto East Napier Avenue, at the I-94 exit, and the trailer and cab came to rest on the guardrail. The driver, from Wayland, Mich., was not injured.

Berrien County Animal Control took around 37 pigs to its nearby enclosure, providing water and shade until the animals could be retrieved.

“Ten pigs experienced a terrifying death on the highway, and those who survived will presumably end up under the slaughterhouse knife,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a news release. “PETA’s billboard will remind people that the best way to prevent tragedies like this one is to keep smart, sensitive pigs off the road in the first place by going vegan.”

Fatal accidents involving livestock aren’t uncommon, according to PETA officials.

Buckles said that in 2018, there were more than 90 accidents in the U.S. involving trucks used to transport pigs, chickens, turkeys and cows. So far in 2019, PETA has noted 55 accidents involving vehicles carrying animals used for food, she added.

PETA hears about such accidents from news reports and notices from the public, Buckles said, and billboards have been put up near other accident locations, including one last year in Minnesota.

Eating meat is “completely unnecessary,” Buckles said. Millions of pigs live in crowded conditions experiencing “a lifetime of abuse or torment on the way to the slaughterhouse,” she said.

A vegan diet avoids any items that are derived from animals, including meat, dairy products or eggs.

Contact: jmatuszak@TheHP.com, 932-0360, Twitter: @HPMatuszak