The world eagerly anticipate the final court hearing where Canadian activist may face a prison sentence for feeding water to dehydrated pigs
On Thursday 4th May, a case that has gained global media attention and caused worldwide debate for almost two years will finally draw to a close as Anita Krajnc, Co-Founder of Toronto Pig Save, will have her final court hearing in Burlington, Canada.
The trial will begin at 9am at the Burlington Court House, with an all-day vigil starting at 7am at Fearmans ‘Pork’ inc. Several groups will also be holding solidarity vigils worldwide to show unity with the message that compassion is not a crime.
Ms Krajnc was charged with criminal mischief in June 2015 after feeding water to dehydrated pigs in a transportation truck, bound for slaughter. Please see ‘The Crime: Compassion’ video of the incident that led to the charges here. She faces a potential six month prison sentence, and $5,000 fine. At the most recent trial on March 9th, Judge Harris said he needed more time to issue the verdict.
The case has attracted global media coverage, and the defence put together by Ms Krajnc’s lawyers James Silver and Gary Grill, both vegan, has put the animal agriculture industry on trial.
The defence shows people that pigs are persons, not property and that Ms Krajnc’s actions were adhering to ‘The Golden Rule’ – treat others as you wish to be treated.
‘Anita is acting in the public good,’ Mr Grill told a packed courtroom. ‘Though pigs are not recognized as persons under law, they have the same capacity to suffer as humans. It is clear that the public has an interest in fostering the good actions of others.’
Virtual reality footage showing typical treatment of pigs in factory farms has also been used together with evidence showing how sentient and self-aware pigs are from leading scientists.
‘Pigs have individual personalities. They’re also one of the few species that can recognise themselves in a mirror. They have self-awareness, self-agency and have a sense of themselves within the social community. Each one is a unique individual.’ said Lori Marino, a Neuroscientist who testified at the Pig Trial on November 1st 2016.
Toronto Pig Save started in 2011 and began a wider network known as The Save Movement in which groups from around the world join together to bear witness to animals arriving in transportation trucks at slaughterhouses. There are now more than 130 groups worldwide, including in North and South America, Europe and Asia.
The public are encouraged to show support via social media by using the hashtags #pigtrial and #compassionisnotacrime. You can also pledge your support by joining the #pigtrial Thunderclap here.
The Save Movement are aiming for #pigtrial and #compassionisnotacrime to be trending worldwide, sharing the story of the trial as widely as possible. Please join us to spread the message!
Yesterday in Burlington, Canada, a terrible tragedy occurred when a truck transporting pigs to slaughter at Fearmans ‘Pork’ overturned. What happened next has left people around the world completely heartbroken.
Activists from Toronto Pig Save rushed to the scene where the truck was, just outside Fearmans slaughterhouse. From live video streams on social media, the employees of the slaughterhouse can be seen trying to cover up what was happening with sheets of cardboard. But it was clear to see that there were dead and injured pigs from this completely traumatising event. Fearmans ‘Pork’ slaughters 10,000 pigs every single day, so you would think they would spare the lives of these innocent victims, right?
Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case. Fearmans employees actually rounded up the survivors of the attack and took them into the slaughterhouse, where they would be killed in a gas chamber. In the Fearmans car park, the employees can be seen using the sheets of cardboard to herd the pigs into the slaughterhouse…you can’t make this stuff up! For the survivors, this would have been the first time in their lives that they felt the sunshine on their backs or the grass on their feet. Having survived such a traumatising accident where some of their friends had died, the innocent animals seemed to have no idea of the hellhole they were about to enter.
There were also pigs that were unable to walk and collapsed outside, near the truck. Along with the activists, Steve Jenkins, father of Esther the Wonder Pig, was present and was eager to take the pigs to his sanctuary. These pigs that can no longer walk are what the industry call ‘downed’ animals, and no profit can be made from them by selling their bodies as meat. So what is it to them if a sanctuary takes a couple of downed animals that would be no use to them anyway? Activists begged for the slaughterhouse to show mercy to these poor pigs, but Fearmans showed absolutely none and killed them on the spot. The photograph below shows one pig comforting his downed companion, before being marched to his own death.
Anita Krajnc, Co-Founder of Toronto Pig Save, who is currently on trial for ‘criminal mischief’ after feeding water to a dehydrated pig (read all about it here) was arrested at the scene. Understandably, emotions were running high and people were trying to document this completely surreal and heartbreaking event. Police dragged Anita from the scene and into a police car. After her release, she organised an all-night vigil at Fearmans, to pay respect to the animals who were involved in this terrible tragedy, and to the animals that continue to suffer unbearable cruelty every single day, all for human greed.
Having visited this exact location in the summer where I got to bear witness to pigs heading for slaughter, I found watching this live, as it happened, completely unfathomable. And to think that the bodies of these poor souls are now on their way to Canada supermarkets to be sold and eaten. I urge you to watch the videos on Toronto Pig Save’s Facebook Page and consider this – is this the sort of industry you want to support? Animals are being killed for food every second of the day, but establishments such as Fearmans ‘Pork’ do all they can to keep it hidden. With incidents such as this, they can’t hide what they’re doing.
Now you know the truth – what will you do about it?
On Wednesday 24th August, the two-day trial that has been highly anticipated for over a year, gaining worldwide news coverage and public attention, finally began as Anita Krajnc, co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, appeared in court.
With dozens of animal rights activists gathered outside the courthouse, and every major news channel from Canada in attendance, the overwhelming atmosphere suggested that it was in fact animal agriculture that had been put on trial, not Anita Krajnc.
Ms Krajnc pleaded ‘not guilty’ to charges related to feeding a thirsty pig water, on June 22nd 2015. The prosecution maintained that Ms Krajnc had been interfering with the pig owner’s property, whilst she defended her actions as an act of compassion towards an animal in need.
Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf, the truck driver, stated that on the date of the incident, he transported approximately 190 hogs between 4-6 months of age, 110 kms (1.5 hours) from Van Boekel Farms in Norwich to Fearmans Pork Inc in Burlington. He said the value of the load was approximately $45,000, and in his Police report stated that his main concern was his livelihood.
Eric Van Boekel, factory farmer, stated that he sends 110,000 pigs per year to slaughter, has 4500 sows, and his farm generates gross revenue in excess of $10 million per year.
Armaiti May, DVM, expert in animal welfare and member of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and American Veterinary Medical Association, testified that the pigs appeared to be in severe distress, dehydrated, and thirsty due to the excessive heat that day. She stated that giving them water would alleviate that distress.
For over five years Toronto Pig Save has been bearing witness to animals arriving for slaughter, often stopping trucks and giving water to thirsty pigs. The vigils have resulted in viral videos including 11 million views on “Gary TV’s Best video you will ever see”.
The trial continues on October 3rd, November 1st and November 10th. On October 3rd, Ms Krajnc will be testifying and Dr Weis will be called to the stand to talk about the environmental impact of factory farms. On November 1st, Dr Jenkins, nutrition expert, will testify about the nutritional impact of meat consumption and Dr Marino, renowned cognitive behaviourist, will discuss the cognitive abilities of pigs.
On the final scheduled date of November 10th, the court will hear closing submissions from both the Crown and the defence. The judge will then either rule on the case immediately, or reserve his decision to allow him to fully consider the evidence given.
I had the amazing opportunity to visit Toronto a few weeks ago and be part of the Toronto Save vigils. I’ll be writing more about this soon, but as I’m still on my travels, I just want to briefly let everyone know about a really important trial coming up.
Anita Krajnc is the co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, and will be going on trial on Wednesday 24th and Tuesday 25th August for giving water to dehydrated pigs on their way to slaughter last July. For this act of compassion, Anita now faces up to 6 months in prison and a $5,000 dollar fine.
Why is this important?
Supporting Anita and Toronto Pig Save during this trial is crucial to spread the important message that compassion is not a crime. It’s also a great opportunity to inform others about the Save movement, which is continuing to grow as vigils are currently being set up across the world, including in my home county of Essex in England, which has already set up a series of successful vigils so far.
Who are Toronto Pig Save?
Toronto Pig Save shed light over the harsh reality of animal agriculture. The group expose slaughterhouses that try to keep hidden, and the final journey that innocent animals are forced to endure before they are killed for meat.
What Anita did that day, and what the save movement stands for, is all about showing compassion for animals that have been seen as simply commodities their whole lives. Buying meat and animal products means you are paying for this to happen. In a world that has done so much wrong, all that can now be done for these beautiful animals is to show them compassion in their final moments, and to spread the vegan message so that in the future other animals will not have to be part of such a cruel and horrific industry.
I’ll be covering this trial as it happens, but for now please stand with Anita and Toronto Pig Save, and do all you can to spread the word that compassion is not a crime.
Use the following hashtags to voice your support on social media:
Find out more!
Attending save vigils is a really powerful way to show compassion for exploited animals, Check out the following links to find out more about Toronto Pig Save, Anita’s trial and my own personal experience at Essex Pig Save:
Last month, I met English actor (appearing in X-Men: Days of Future Past) Gregg Lowe. Having recently returned from Toronto, Gregg is now settling back into the London lifestyle, so I got to ask him a few questions about his experience working with marine animal protection organisation Sea Shepherd as part of their Operation Milagro II campaign to defend the endangered vaquita porpoise. Gregg explained that volunteering with Sea Shepherd was certainly an eye-opening experience.
“Sea Shepherd are amazing, I felt so blessed to be able to work with them. I think they’re such a great organisation and just being on the ship for a week was a great experience. What was amazing was that most of these people are there as a volunteer, because they want to make a difference and help in some way. It was a great energy. I’d love to work with them again for longer.”
Like many others, I have felt inspired by recent documentaries such as The Cove, shining light on the annual dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan. You can read my blog about a screening of The Cove with ex-dolphin trainer Ric O’Barryhere and find about about my experience of the London Against Taiji Dophin Massacre Marchhere. Gregg has also felt inspired by such game-changing documentaries to take action for marine animals.
“The Cove was just traumatic and engrossing in so many ways. It really inspires you to do something because you don’t realise stuff like that’s actually going on. I think we all know something’s happening, but when you’re faced with the realness of it, it really affects you.”
“The biggest threat to ocean life? Us, probably! Over fishing, over consumption, silly markets like the Black Market and Chinese Medicine Market. In Mexico, the reason we were there was to try and save the vaquita (a type of porpoise). It wasn’t because they were being fished – a seabass called the totoaba was being fished for its gall bladder for the Chinese medicine market. They’re the same size as the vaquita and were being caught in the nets and getting wiped out – there’s only around twenty of them left now. It’s silly things like that, and also shark fin soup – shown in documentary Shark Water. We are the biggest threat to animals, well to our planet really. So I think its time that we recognise that, as people are, and start to live in more of a symbiotic relationship with animals in the ocean.”
In Operation Milagro II, Sea Shepherdhave worked with local governments to prevent illegal fishing in the area, and are in turn protecting endangered marine life. So could working with governments be the way forward to protect the ocean?
“Definitely, it makes things easier and is a huge support. The problem with working with governments is a lot of them are so corrupt and if you’re taking money away from the country, they don’t really want to know because they don’t really care that animals are being killed when they’re making money out of it. That’s always the problem that you come up against. But the more support you can get, the better.”
As a vegan activist, Gregg’s interest in animal rights grew when learning about eastern philosophy. This developed into a strong interest in Buddhism and living a life centred around compassion, causing as little harm to the earth as possible.
“I was living in Thailand and Napal for a while, staying in different monasteries and studying Buddhism – it was during that period I was looking at things to do with animals. I haven’t always been vegan – I used to eat meat when I was younger, but during that time I found a new appreciation for life and started to see things from a different angle.”
There are a number of reasons why people may decide to choose a vegan lifestyle – personal health, environmental impact – but for Gregg the main basis for this decision stemmed from this idea of compassionate living that he discovered in Buddhism.
“As I learned more about compassion, it was definitely more of an ethical thing. Later on, I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and watched more documentaries like Vegucated. Once you start learning all that – you can’t unlearn it. It’s all about being passionate and living the most compassionate life possible, and for me taking care of animals, humans and everything around me is like the baseline for compassion.”
And with more information, naturally comes more debate. It’s fantastic that the vegan lifestyle seems to be something that is popping up all the time in the news, but this has also come with some criticism. One common topic is the palm oil debate – a product which is found in a lot of vegan (and non-vegan) products, the production process for which is causing severe deforestation to the planet.
“You can’t do everything to save the planet, you can only do as much as you can. It’s all about having the right intention. Being 100% cruelty-free is an ideal, not a reality. They talk about this in buddhism, their first precept is that they can’t kill, but inevitably they stand on the ground and they might kill some ants, but its having the broader knowledge of knowing that your intention is not to harm, so once we’re informed that something has palm oil in, which is harming the environment, then we can make those choices. Its a journey. Of course we all do things in our daily lives which can have a negative effect down the line, but its about trying to balance it out as much as you can.”
Gregg continues to explain that although the production process of products such as palm oil is devastating to the environment, there is still one clear factor that is the leading cause of deforestation, global warming and climate change amongst so many other things – animal agriculture.
“Palm oil is horrendous and it is causing deforestation, but as I’m sure you’ve seen in Cowspiracy, nothing is causing more deforestation than animal agriculture, so I still think you’re winning by living vegan. There’s cause and effect to everything, every action has a reaction so even doing good things will somewhere down the line have some kind of negative effect on something, but if you’re intention is right, then you can let that go.”
As well as appearing in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Gregg has also appeared in several TV series including Murdoch Mysteries, Doctors and Beauty and the Beast. So I was curious as to whether he has had the opportunity to incorporate his passion towards animal rights into his acting.
“I’ve been acting for a long time and I got to a point where I needed more of a purpose for doing what I do, other than just because I want to do it. I think we all get to a stage like that in life where we sit back and think ‘why am I doing this?’ ‘what can I offer to society and the world other than i’m doing this just because I enjoy it?’ and animal rights and veganism became my purpose for doing it because I can do interviews like this and put my name to things. Actually having those beliefs has supported me through tough times, it gives you more of a purpose and that extra support. When you’re not driven by a passion or a purpose, it feels kind of empty.”
Currently, Gregg has just finished computer game Assassin’s Creedwhich was released in February, and has just decided to move back to England to do some more voice-over work. Having enjoyed his experience volunteering with Sea Shepherd, he also hopes to get involved with more of their projects in the future.
“I’d love to work with Sea Shepherd again, but I’m staying in London for now…saying that I change my mind like the wind, and also with my work I travel quite a lot, but for now my base is in London.”
Welcome back to London, Gregg!Thank you for taking the time to talk about animal rights and your experience volunteering with Sea Shepherd. Sea Shepherddo some fantastic work protecting marine life in our oceans and need your support. Find out more about them here. You can also keep up to date with all of their latest campaigns on Facebookand Twitter.
Gregg mentions a number of animal rights and environmentaldocumentaries and books, check out the following links and inform yourself about important issues that are affecting our planet:
Last year, I wrote about a save movement called Toronto Pig Save, an organisation who bear witness to pigs on their way to slaughter. I interviewed popular American blogger Bite Size Vegan about her thoughts on attending her first vigil with Toronto Pig Save, and thought about how the videos and images captured by people attending the vigils had affected me, and hopefully had the power to make people question their eating habits. So I was thrilled when I heard the movement was expanding to England, first with Manchester Pig Save and then to my home county, with the first Essex Pig Save vigil outside Cheale Meats slaughterhouse in Brentwood, yesterday.
We arrived at around 8am and as we approached the slaughterhouse, it was clear that our arrival was expected. There were around ten policemen and the owner of Cheale Meats standing outside the front. The police were quite co-operative and we explained that this was a peaceful protest. Straight away there was this incredibly eerie feeling about the area. As cars drove by, we wondered if people even knew what was happening so close to them. The sound of birds singing in the sky was drowned out by the sound of pigs screaming at regular intervals. After about an hour, the first truck arrived, transporting terrified pigs to their final destination.
Unfortunately this truck didn’t stop so we were unable to get a good look at the pigs or comfort them at all. We were told this would be the only transport truck for the day, but for a slaughterhouse that kills 6000 pigs a week, this seemed a little hard to believe. Sure enough, about an hour and a half later, a second truck arrived. This one stopped for a few seconds, and we were able to see the faces of the terrified pigs inside.
As you can see, the pigs were covered in dirt and cuts. The videos I’ve seen before of pigs being transported to slaughter show a mix of emotions from the pigs. Some squealing in terror, some aggressive to other pigs cramped together with no room to move, but these pigs seemed almost like they had accepted their fate – they knew what was about to happen to them.
I felt like, as humans, we have let these animals down. They are the victims of an incredibly cruel, violent and completely unnecessary industry, and at that point in time, there was nothing we could do for them except try and show them that they are loved, and we are sorry.
I’m lucky that I normally write about animal sanctuaries and animals that are living happy lives, but today I was faced with the brutal reality for most farm animals. The whole experience was emotionally draining, but I left feeling more dedicated to animal rights than ever before. The animals we bore witness to today are not with us any more, but we can change the future for animals just like them. Leaving animals off your plate and going vegan is the best thing you can do for animals. We can evolve, and leave this out-dated, cruel and planet-destroying way of living behind us. Change starts on your plate.
Please support this important pig save movement and be the voice these animals so desperately need!
I’ve neglected my blog a little over the past few weeks due to taking five of my exams for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism. But during this time, there was one news story that I’ve found completely baffling, and a reminder of the long journey animal rights has to come in the court of law.
Anita Krajnc is the co-founder of Canada-based organisation Toronto Pig Save. I was lucky enough to talk to Anita a few months ago, for my blog ‘Toronto Pig Save – Bearing Witness’, including an interview with Bite Size Vegan. It’s an incredible organisation and one of my favourites, I’m currently planning a trip to Canada next year when I will take part in a vigil.
Toronto Pig Save really are on the front line of the animal rights movement, meeting animals that are soon to become products of the meat industry. You can view the video of the moment that led to the arrest here. At a time when people are fully aware of how much hate there is in the world, how can someone giving water to thirsty pigs as they make their journey to slaughter warrant 10 years in prison?
Anita and Toronto Pig Save need your support more than ever. Please spread the word about Toronto Pig Save – the work they are doing is so important in showing people what buying meat really means.