Animal Activist Who Gave Water to Slaughter-Bound Pigs is Now on Trial

Would you risk jail time or a $5,000 fine to give a thirsty slaughterhouse-bound pig water? For Anita Krajnc, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Anita Krajnc is a Canadian animal rights activist who is on trial for giving water to thirsty pigs who were heading to a slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario on a scorching hot June day in 2015.

Here’s what happened: While a trailer packed with pigs en route to Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse was stopped at a light, Krajnc approached the trailer. Believing that the pigs were overheated and dehydrated, she tipped her water bottle through holes to provide what water she could to them.

That’s when the truck driver Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf emerged. Not-so-kind words were exchanged, and the pigs’ owner filed a complaint with police shortly after the incident occurred.

Krajnc has been charged with criminal mischief and faces jail time or a fine of up to $5,000. Her trial began this week and has attracted international attention.

That day in June was not an isolated incident. Krajnc is the co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, the organization that encourages people to “bear witness” to the suffering of animals in transport and at slaughterhouses.

I wrote about Krajnc last year. Toronto Pig Save volunteers regularly do what they can to ease animal suffering. As pig-filled trucks headed to slaughter go by, activists hold signs to raise awareness of the horrors passing through and yes– they give the pigs water on hot days.

They also share the terror in photos for the world to see.

Now Krajnc’s trial is rolling forward. According to The Toronto Star, before court, animal rights activists carrying signs with various slogans calling for people to stop eating meat held a peaceful rally. Video of the incident was played during the trial.

CBC Radio-Canada reports, “footage of the panting pigs left some of the animal rights activists tearful.”

During the proceedings Wednesday, the pigs’ owner, farmer Eric Van Boekel, testified that he complained to police because he was worried there were contaminants in the water, and that could lead the Fearman’s Pork slaughterhouse to turn his hogs away.

Really? What kind of animal rights protestor would poison an animal just to make a point?

“That, he said, would be the worst case scenario, though he acknowledged that it’s never happened to him.”

It’s never happened? What a shocker.

Van Boekel also said he was worried about the animal activists. “One of my biggest fears — and it’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s when it’s going to happen — is one of the protesters has their arm in the slat, and the driver pulls away, they’ll get (dragged) under the truck,” he told a packed courtroom.

Ok, at least that argument is in the realm of believability.

The Toronto Star shared highlights from court:

“During cross-examination, Veldjesgraaf said the animals are given water before and after they’re loaded onto the trucks, but not during transit.

Court heard that there are guidelines for the transportation of livestock, including that they should be protected from “undue hardship” and that the floor of the truck should be lined with hay or wood chips.

When asked if guidelines for transporting animals are aimed at ensuring the welfare and safety of animals, Veldjesgraaf responded yes, adding that it’s also for the welfare of “the food chain.”

CBC Radio-Canada reports that Veldjesgraaf and Van Boekel have testified already. Krajnc is due to testify as well, as is Armaiti May. May is an expert in animal welfare and a member of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association who is expected to testify about whether the pigs in the video are in distress.

According to Krajnc, giving water to the death-sentenced pigs was a risk worth taking. When I interviewed her last year, she shared, “We are not fully helping the animals since they are going to slaughter, but only offering small acts of compassion by giving them water before they enter the worst place imaginable… a mass industrial killing facility.”

She sees it as everyone’s duty “to not look away, but to come as close as they can to suffering animals and play their part in overcoming injustice and creating the world we want to see.”

She is proud that their approach has resonated with people around the world. Krajnc may be on trial for criminal mischief, but her aim is to put things in the greater context of policy change.

She shared, “We are challenging the offensive notion in Canadian law that views farmed animals as mere property or ‘stuff.’ Animals are persons just like any one else, with interests in not being harmed and living a natural life.”

Krajnc told me, “My hope is that with this case being a national media story and gaining attention at the international level, that more people will join us in a nonviolent, vegan diet and advocate for animals by joining our vigils and starting a Save group at slaughterhouses in their own communities.”

If that happens, then regardless of what happens with her trial, I’m guessing she’ll consider it all worth it.

Krajnc made the choice to act as her conscience guided her to. Imagine if more people had that level of courage and commitment. It’s possible that when her trial concludes, she will be found guilty. After all—whether we like it or not, those pigs were not her property, and it is risky to run into traffic to approach a trailer truck—however honorable her motives may have been.

So Krajnc could serve jail time for letting her conscience guide her. While factory farm managers continue on with their inhumane treatment of animals.

Something is definitely wrong with the world.

Regardless of Krajnc’s trial outcome, I’d say she’s already won. Her act of kindness has raised awareness about a legal cruelty that is still permitted in many parts of the world. It’s brought the topic of inhumane factory farming into the international spotlight and ignited others to join her in her quest.

I find the footage of pigs en route to the slaughterhouse so disturbing that I can hardly bare to look at it. And yet people like Anita Krajnc are there, week after week, bearing witness and doing what they can to raise awareness.

For that and many other reasons–Anita Krajnc is a hero.

Her trial dates are set to continue Oct. 3 in Burlington, Nov. 1 in Milton, Ont., and Nov. 10 in Burlington.

Here’s How You Can Get Involved

  • Follow the trial: Keep tabs with the hashtag #PigTrial. Plus–CBC Hamilton’s Samantha Craggs is reporting live from the courtroom. You can find a link to her coverage here.
  • Sign and share the petition: Tell the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General that compassion isn’t a crime.
  • Expand The Save Movement: In The Save Movement activists bear witness of sad and frightened animals on transport trucks and at slaughterhouses, live markets, and factory farms. Others are encouraged to start a save group where they live.
  • Follow Toronto Pig Save on Facebook

Photo Credit: Louise Jorgensen/Toronto Pig Save


agi r.
agi r.2 years ago

Really? We need trials to decide if it was a human act or a criminal one? ???

joan silaco
joan silaco2 years ago

a waste of tax payer money!

Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago

Shame! People (I am, everyday) should be thankful for the humans taking care of the precious animals and the environment.

federico bortoletto

Petizioni già firmate e condivise.

Brett Cloud
Brett Cloud2 years ago


Brett Cloud
Brett Cloud2 years ago

@ Christine Stewart. *I* have signed BOTH petitions.

Christine Stewart
Christine S2 years ago

It is so sad that people who protest the slaughter of dogs in China do not see the suffering of pigs as equivalent. The entire life of a factory farmed pig is horrifying- tails docked and castrated with no anesthesia, living on cold hard concrete, the terrifying cramped drive in the truck, and finally being electrocuted at the slaughterhouse before having their throats slit, and then dumped in boiling water to get the skin off more easily...

Beryl Ludwig
Beryl Ludwig2 years ago

thank you for the story. I didn't know about this. :(

Gerald L.
Gerald L2 years ago

Cont'd: or allow farm based Abattoirs for on site processing.

Food Security in my world and the majority of the human race entails a balanced omnivorous diet. Unecessary Food Miles are generally attributed to Off Season Fruit shipped thousands of miles from other continents and Processed Foods. Our alleged Natural Food Markets have rows of shelves with packaged phood.

Gerald L.
Gerald L2 years ago

This is about Krajnc world view. My observations are Porcine Insulin replacement Mitral Heart Valves for human beings. Blue suede shoes vs Synthetic Oil based footwear.

Non of the pro animal rights commenters here would ever sign an Anti Pipeline Petition would you?

Pig Save and it's allied group's are a form of Food Racism. I am in agreement of the errors in CAFO's Industrial methods of meat production. Grass grazed animals are a natural conversion of the Sunshine Rainfall Grassland Cycle. Plant based cropping is highly Carbon Intensive.

One solution to eliminate animal transport is to provide