Canadian animal lover Anita Krajnc is facing up to 10 years imprisonment for giving water to thirsty, slaughter-bound pigs. On June 22nd, Krajnc and a fellow activist waited patiently on the side of the road in the sweltering heat, just so they could offer pigs headed for slaughter a fleeting moment of respite from their suffering in the form of reassuring words and much-needed water.
When one such truck stopped at the traffic light, the two women sprung into action, giving water to the frightened and dehydrated pigs crammed together in the back of the truck. As if looking into the sad and supplicating eyes of doomed animals wasn’t enough — all the while knowing nothing can be done to save these innocent creatures from their fate — on this particular occasion, Krajnc was verbally abused and threatened by the truck driver who then reported her to the police.
Following the incident, Anita Kranjc has been charged with “criminal mischief” for spraying “an unknown liquid into the trailer where the hogs were situated.”The liquid in question? Water, generously given to thirsty, panting pigs on a scorching summer’s day.
The Sad Fate for Countless Pigs
Over 100 million pigs are slaughtered for meat every year. The vast majority of them are raised in cramped and filthy conditions in factory farms and then sent off on their first and last journey. In Canada, it is perfectly legal to transport pigs for up to 36 hours without giving them food or water.
This means that terrified animals are callously loaded into the back of trucks, densely packed — no law limits the number of animals in trucks — and transported for miles without nourishment, left to suffer from hunger, thirst, and extreme temperatures. This realization, as well as the sight of hundreds of truckloads of starving and scared animals on their way to the local slaughterhouse is what prompted Anita Krajnc to co-found the Toronto Pig Save animal rights group. Members assemble at traffic lights en route to animal processing plants in hopes of giving the animals some food or water.
The initiative became so popular, it spawned Toronto Cow Save and Chicken Save groups, as well as spread the idea across Canada, the U.S. and even all the way to Melbourne, Australia. Members of these groups also display signs and generally strive to spread awareness of meat’s forgotten victims: the truckloads of frightened animals who spend their last days packed into the back of a moving vehicle.
The few droplets of water and kind words Krajnc and other activists are able to give the pigs during the brief moment a truck stops on its journey is most certainly the first and last instance of kindness these animals — who are otherwise viewed as mere commodities to be bred and killed for profit — will ever know. Yet in this instance, speaking up for animals and giving thirsty pigs water was met with a criminal mischief charge. This brave and compassionate woman now faces a $5,000 fine and up to 10 years behind bars.
“These are not humans you dumb frickin’ broad”
Sadly, this event is rather symptomatic of our society’s ubiquitous belief that animals are ours to use as we please. A video of the incident records the truck’s driver, identified in court documents as Jeffery Veldjesgraaf, threatening Krajnc for spraying the pigs with her water bottle with a hostile
“You do it again and I’ll slap it out of your hands.” The video also shows him gesturing towards the animals, saying “You know what, these are not humans you dumb frickin’ broad.” The next day, pig farmer Eric Van Boekel, who owned the pigs filed a police complaint. He later told the Guardian he took legal action because he was “concerned for the safety of his product.” He is quoted by other news media saying he wished protesters would “just leave my stuff alone.”
Where Compassion Meets Commodities
Where some see sentient individuals worthy of our compassion and respect, most see “product,” “stuff” and “not humans.” These are the harmful beliefs propagated in our society by those who profit from the suffering of animals, justifying so in order for consumers to support this heartless industry with their dollars and food choices.
Kranjc has said in a statement that “offering water to a thirsty pig” is “not only a right, but a duty we all share. Causing the pigs to suffer in the first place is what is wrong.” Indeed, pigs raised for meat suffer horrific conditions. They are confined to cages and crates, genetically modified to gain weight quicker, separated from their mothers and castrated without anesthesia.
Living conditions are so stressful that piglets have their teeth pulled out and tails sliced off to prevent frustrated gnawing which may damage the “product.” And this all occurs before they are taken to the slaughterhouse.
Most people like to perpetuate the wrongful notion that pigs are stupid, filthy animals who exist merely to be turned into spare ribs and bacon. In reality, pigs are the fourth most intelligent animals on earth. They also have great memories, are highly social, curious, playful and clean, contrary to popular belief. Not to mention that anyone with a heart will find them adorable. Pigs also form strong bonds with members of their species, other animals, and humans – and display individual character traits. Farmed animals, in general, are far more complex beings than is generally believed.
Yet, people like Kranjc who stand up for them and try to protect them or alleviate their suffering are condemned rather than condoned for their compassion. The media has exploded with outrage against this injustice, but this may not be enough. Anita Kranjc has told the press that she simply can’t believe she’s been “charged for giving water to thirsty pigs.” Nonetheless, the activist is putting on a brave face, saying she’s prepared to do the time in jail for an action that she doesn’t regret.
This gross miscarriage of justice should not be allowed to carry on. This is a clear instance of the meat industry flexing its hormone-pumped muscles in an intimidating show of strength aimed at dissuading activists from helping animals. But as long as there are suffering animals, there will be men and women who speak up for them and act accordingly.
What You Can Do
With Anita Krajnc’s next pretrial date scheduled for December, 15th, so taking action is a matter of urgency. Several online petitions have sprung up in Krajnc’s defense. One of them entitled “Compassion Isn’t a Crime” has already collected over 140,000 signatures. Others have also been published on Change.org and ForceChange.
Each signatory is a much-needed additional voice in the call to drop charges against this innocent woman. You can also write a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, expressing your opposition to this profound injustice. According to Anita Krantjc’s statement, transportation regulations of farmed animals in Canada are the most outdated in the Western World, and eight million farmed animals die each year on the way to the slaughterhouse as a result of this.
Join Humane Society International in calling for stricter measures to be implemented or contact the Canadian Minister of Agriculture Laurence MacCaulay directly to ask that he take steps to render transport of farmed animals safer and less distressing.
Finally, if like Kranjc you care about the fate of pigs and other farmed animals, you can simply choose to stop participating in their exploitation. Consuming meat means supporting an industry that treats animals as commodities and subjects them to tremendous suffering. The most effective way to stand with Anita Kranjc and what she believes in is to leave meat off the menu. Thankfully, we live in a time where eating a delicious burger, hot-dog or plate of BBQ ribs doesn’t require killing an animal.
All images source: Toronto Pig Save