Woman faces charges for giving water to thirsty pigs

Toronto Pig Save group
© Toronto Pig Save

A Toronto organization stands at traffic lights to reassure panicked pigs on their way to the slaughterhouse. It's worked for 4 years, but now the leader is in trouble for "criminal mischief."

A Toronto woman named Anita Krajnc is facing criminal charges for giving water to thirsty pigs on a hot summer day. For the past four years, Krajnc, who is the head of Toronto Pig Save, has been holding regular “vigils” for pigs that are on their way to the slaughterhouse. These vigils involve waiting at traffic lights for the transport trucks to stop, and then interacting with the pigs by reaching into the truck, patting and reassuring them, telling them they’re loved, and offering water on hot days.

At a vigil this past June, however, the truck driver jumped out and yelled at Krajnc to get away from the truck. “Do not put water in there. These are not humans, you dumb frickin' broad!” he shouted at her. Shortly after, a police officer showed up at her home and announced that the pig farm owner had charged her with criminal mischief. Now she faces a $5,000 fine and up to 10 years in jail.

This story raises some serious questions about what constitutes personal property. In an article for the Toronto Star, Krajnc points out how many people wonder why it’s legal to break into a car to save a dog on a scorching summer day, and yet it’s illegal to offer water to a thirsty pig.

The difference lies in the fact that these pigs are bred and raised for human consumption, so they are part of a “chain of custody” that is crucially important in food production. Her actions have disrupted that chain, which could result in the pigs being deemed unfit for consumption and possibly going to landfill instead. From the production standpoint, her actions could contaminate a process that is well established and tightly controlled.

Having a tightly controlled production method, however, doesn’t make it right or ethical. All you have to do is watch the following video clip of the Toronto Pig Save group in action, and the sight of those thirsty, panic-stricken pigs, all crammed into a dirty truck, is sickening. Giving those desperate animals a sip of water absolutely seems like the right thing to do from a moral standpoint.

“It’s just so heartbreaking to know that that’s the only bit of mercy and love that they’ve had in their entire lives,” says one participant at the end of the video clip, sobbing as the truck pulls away.

Many people are up in arms at the fact that Krajnc’s activism may be considered criminal behavior, and yet I can’t help but think that controversial boundary-pushing is precisely what attracts the attention needed to make lasting change. It will be interesting to see how Krajnc’s case progresses. I hope her charge is lifted and she can continue her important advocacy to improve the plight of these unfortunate animals.

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