Anita Krajnc will not be fined or face jail time for her "act of compassion" toward animals.
A 50-year-old Toronto woman, Anita Krajnc, has been acquitted by a judge for giving water to pigs on their way to slaughter. The incident took place on a hot day in June 2015 while Krajnc, an outspoken animal rights activist, was holding one of her regular thrice-weekly vigils outside a slaughterhouse in Burlington, ON.
When a truck loaded with 190 pigs pulled up to an intersection, Krajnc immediately gave water to the pigs and reassured them. The driver yelled at her to get away and she responded, “Have some compassion!” The result was a criminal mischief charge for interference that could’ve led to a $5,000 fine and up to 10 years in jail.
As the pigs’ owner argued, Krajnc “could have introduced a contaminant into the truck and disturbed the otherwise tightly regulated health and safety of the animals.”
Not surprisingly, the story, with its heart-wrenching video footage and the subsequent trial, quickly hit global headlines. Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), appeared at Krajnc’s trial last fall, voicing support. Celebrity vegan musician Moby pledged to cover any financial costs that Krajnc incurred during her trial.
The decision was announced yesterday: not guilty. Judge David Harris stated that he was not convinced a crime had been committed and that giving water to pigs was not “interference.” He pointed out that the driver still delivered the pigs to the abattoir, despite knowing they’d received water, and the abattoir received them, knowing the same: “This showed that the driver did not believe there was a real threat.”
The Globe and Mail describes the trial as a highly emotional event, with Krajnc’s lawyer showing videos of factory farming conditions that elicited gasps from the audience. Krajnc said more than once that her goal is to convert people to a vegan lifestyle, and her lawyer likened her actions to those of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Susan B. Anthony – comparisons that Judge Harris disliked. Nor did he agree with the argument that pigs should be considered persons, rather than property:
“By law in Canada, pigs are not persons and they are property. Ms. Krajnc and like-minded individuals may believe otherwise and they are fully entitled to that belief. That does not, however, make it so. In passing, I note that dogs and cats and other pets are property, too. And not persons.”
The verdict is a major victory, nevertheless, for vegans and animal rights activists worldwide who can relate to Krajnc's justification for her actions as "following the Golden Rule." She told the Crown attorney, "I did it because it's written in our hearts."