Canadian animal rights activist faces 10 years imprisonment for giving water to pigs

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A glass flying pig is pictured at Atelier Les Trois Corbeaux in Quebec City, March 29, 2014. The glass is melted in an oven at a temperature of 1093 degrees Celsius (2000 degrees Fahrenheit) before it is coloured and ready to be shaped into items for decorative purposes or everyday use. The studio's products are sold all over North America. Reuters/Mathieu Belanger

A Canadian animal rights activist is faced with the possibility of being sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment for giving water to dehydrated pigs while they were on their way to a slaughterhouse in Ontario in June this year.

A video showed Anita Krajnc, 48, arguing with the driver of a truck that was transporting pigs to an Ontario pork processing plant, while it was standing at a signal. She and a fellow activist were trying to give water to the pigs while the driver, who was identified as Jeffery Veldjesgraaf, tried to stop them from doing so.

When she refused to listen, the driver threatened to call the police. In the video, the driver enquired what was in the water, to which Krajnc replied it was just water. The argument continued and Kranjc managed to give some water to a pig, threatening the driver to bring assault charges against him if he tries to do anything.

Ontario hog farmer Eric Van Boekel, the owner of the pigs, filed a police complaint the following day.

According to Canadian media reports, Krajnc has been charged with “criminal mischief” for spraying an unknown liquid into the trailer carrying the pigs.

“It was really shocking when I got the summons. I couldn’t believe I was being charged for giving water to thirsty pigs,” she told local newspaper Inside Toronto. “My defence is that I was being a good Samaritan. If I face a fine, I’d rather just do the time in jail.”

Krajnc is the founder of an animal rights group called the Toronto Pig Save. The group’s website says, “Our goal is to encourage people: to join us and bear witness of the suffering of animals in transport and at slaughterhouses, to go vegan, to be daily animal activists, to protect the environment, to promote healthy living, to support farm sanctuaries, and to work towards a just transition for workers and the creation of meaningful and nonviolent work in a vegan food economy.”

Boekel said that he abides by all standards and regulations and treats the animals ethically. “We don’t have a fight with the protesters per se,” he told the Guardian. “It’s a free country. Their views – we don’t agree – but they have a right to their opinion as we do ours. If they’d like to protest in a safe and reasonable manner, they’re afforded those rights.”

Under Canadian Law, pigs can be transported for up to 36 hours without food and water and are considered property to the owners.

A number of online petitions have come up in favour of Krajnc. One of those is called “Compassion Isn’t Crime,” which has managed to pull in 126,444 supporters as of Tuesday afternoon. Another urged the Ontario court of justice to drop charges against her. Krajnc’s pre-trial date is Dec. 15, while the court is expected to hear her case not before next August.

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