Denny’s leadership confronted about animal cruelty scandal

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  • As Denny’s executives gathered for a golf tournament, advocates entered the public golf course to speak with them about Denny’s animal cruelty scandal.
  • Executives failed to respond to demonstrators’ questions regarding the use of cages for mother pigs in its supply chain.
  • For over a year, Animal Equality has been fighting a campaign against Denny’s cruelty. Executives have repeatedly refused to respond publicly.
  • Over ten years ago, Denny’s committed to eliminating cages for mother pigs in its supply chain. Rather than following through, it removed the commitment from its website.

Earlier this April, advocates intensified the campaign against Denny’s animal cruelty by attending a golf tournament for its leadership team. On a public golf course in Arlington, Texas, demonstrators confronted members of Denny’s Strategic Supply Chain Committee and other key executives about their roles in the corporate scandal. 

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While advocates handed out leaflets and pressed Denny’s executives for a public response, a mobile billboard of a pig trapped in a gestation crate was driven around the parking lot.

This effort is part of a broader Animal Equality campaign to address the use of small, metal cages for mother pigs. These “gestation crates”–which have been banned in eleven states and several countries–prevent mother pigs from turning around or taking more than a step forward. 

Despite the public outcry, Denny’s has not publicly addressed these concerns. Instead, here’s how they reacted during the golf tournament: 

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Kelli Valade, CEO: Unwilling to speak with demonstrators, Valade refused to leave the golf house and forfeited the beginning of the tournament. 

Sharon Lykins, Vice President of Product Innovation: When asked what she thought about the campaign against Denny’s cruelty, she failed to provide an answer. 

Barbara Magro, Franchisee Association Executive Director & Meeting Manager: Several months after her son issued an obscene gesture at peaceful protesters, Magro encouraged her fellow executives to ignore animal advocates at the golf tournament. When demonstrators attempted to approach her, she defiantly turned her back and walked away. 

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The following attendees were given leaflets and asked about their plans for mother pigs. They provided no comment: 

  • Robert Verostek, CFO
  • Kevin Coveney, Member of the Strategic Supply Chain Committee 
  • Jim Wainwright, Member of Strategic Supply Chain Committee
  • Carl Ferland, Member of the Supply Chain Oversight Committee
  • Sam Wilensky, Chair of the Denny’s Franchise Association
  • Medhat Bechay, Franchisee and Board Member of the Denny’s Franchise Association

Denny’s leadership remains in the hot seat

Denny’s executives have consistently overlooked consumer concerns regarding animal cruelty, a trend that dates back over a decade. More than ten years ago, Denny’s pledged to phase out the use of gestation crates—a promise it not only failed to fulfill but also quietly removed from its website.

Image representative of a farm that uses gestation crates

Months after launching a campaign against Denny’s cruelty, Animal Equality’s President and Campaigns Manager were denied entry at Denny’s headquarters in Spartanburg, South Carolina. They had attempted to deliver over 53,000 messages from concerned consumers who pleaded with Denny’s to take action. 

Protesters have repeatedly urged Dawn Lafreeda—the corporation’s largest franchise owner and board member of its Franchise Association—to advocate for mother pigs. Despite demonstrations at the nationwide screenings of her new documentary film, it remains unclear whether Lafreeda will use her influence for mother pigs.

In fact, just one day after the Arlington golf tournament, Lafreeda, Verostek, and other guests of the Denny’s Allied Partner Summit observed from inside a hotel as protesters gathered outside. Once again, they failed to issue a response. 

You can hold Denny’s accountable

With Denny’s leadership failing to uphold their commitments, you can demand accountability by:

  1. Like, comment, and share Animal Equality’s video on YouTube
  2. Email Denny’s leadership the video
  3. Share our post on social media and tag Denny’s
  4. Joining Animal Equality for our next Live Action Hour

You can also take the most powerful action of all by leaving animal products off your plate. Join the Love community today to download your copy of the plant-based cookbook. 

Piglet in a factory farm


Pigs, cows, and other animals feel pain and deserve to be protected from abuse.

You can protect these intelligent animals by simply choosing plant‑based alternatives.

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