A Toronto animal rights activist is facing criminal charges for providing water to pigs on a truck headed to a slaughterhouse.
Anita Krajnc, 49, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of criminal mischief in connection with the June 2015 incident, CBC reported. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of six months’ jail time, a $5,000 fine, or both, according to The Guardian. Her trial, which began in August, resumed Tuesday in Ontario Superior Court in the city of Burlington.
Krajnc, the founder of the group Toronto Pig Save, approached a pig transport truck stopped at a traffic island on the way to a slaughterhouse for Fearmans Pork Inc., and began giving water to some of the animals through openings in their crates.
Footage of the incident (above) shows driver Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf getting out of the car and telling her to stop. When Krajnc states, “Jesus said if they are thirsty, give them water,” Veldjesgraaf replies, “These are not humans, you dumb frickin’ broad.”
She continues to give water to the pigs while the driver protests.
The farmer who owned the pigs, Eric Van Boekel, filed a criminal complaint, testifying in August he did so because he feared that the water was contaminated or that the act might cause the slaughterhouse to turn his pigs away, the Toronto Star reported at the time.
Krajnc says she was motivated by compassion for the animals, defending her actions in an essay for The Guardian published Oct. 27:
When someone is suffering, I believe it is wrong to look the other away. It doesn’t matter if the sufferer has two legs or four or asks for help in words we can understand or with body language that is just as easy to comprehend. Leo Tolstoy, an ethical vegetarian and one of my inspirations, wrote, “[W]e should take pity on animals in the same way as we do on each other. And we all know this, if we do not deaden the voice of our conscience inside us.”
The pigs I was trying to help on that fateful day were undoubtedly suffering. Crammed into a transport truck on a sweltering day, these helpless animals – covered with their own excrement, being crushed together and slowly suffocating from heat – stared at me through the trailer’s metal slats with their pleading eyes.
Part of Toronto Pig Save’s mission is to “bear witness” to animals on their way to slaughterhouses and show them compassion in their final moments. The group’s Facebook page shows numerous photos of activists providing water to animals on transport trucks or simply petting them.
On Tuesday, the court heard from neuroscientist Lori Marino, who testified that pigs experience emotional distress and have a psychological capacity similar to that of dogs, CTV News reported. Krajnc and her defense ― who argue she was acting in the “public good” ― are using the trial as a platform to talk about broader issues with animal agriculture and factory farming, from animal welfare to the health impacts of eating meat.
But representatives from farming groups who have expressed support for the pig farmer say those arguments are irrelevant to the charges against Krajnc. Bruce Kelly of Farm and Food Care, a coalition representing Ontario farmers, told the CBC that the trial was about food producers being able to maintain control without third-party interference.
“It’s essentially a misdemeanor case about product tampering,” he said.