Farmer tells animal activist's trial he was concerned for safety of his pigs

Animal activist tries to give water to pigs on their way to slaughter

The trial of a woman who gave water to slaughterhouse-bound pigs heard Wednesday from the owner of the animals who said he complained to police because he was concerned about the safety of the pigs and the animal activists.

Anita Krajnc, an activist with the group Toronto Pig Save, was charged with mischief in connection with an incident in June 2015, in which she started dumping water inside a tractor trailer carrying pigs to a slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ont. She has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The pigs' owner, farmer Eric Van Boekel, testified Wednesday 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.

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

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.

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Before court, a group of animal rights activists from Toronto Pig Save along with members of the international group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals held a peaceful rally.

They carried signs with various slogans calling for people to stop eating meat. Others wore shirts advocating for veganism.

Krajnc, who was wearing a pink shirt with a picture of a pig on it under her pantsuit, said outside court that she did nothing wrong, and that she continues to give the pigs water to this day.

Earlier in the day, the trial heard from Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf, the driver of the tractor trailer transporting the pigs to the slaughterhouse when the incident happened.

Veldjesgraaf testified that it wasn't unusual for Krajnc and other animal rights activists to offer water to the pigs, and the Fearman's Pork slaughterhouse has never turned away the animals he hauls there because of it.

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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.''

Court also watched video of the 2015 incident, in which Krajnc is seen yelling to the truck driver "Have some compassion, have some compassion!''

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"Let's call the cops,'' the driver says, holding his phone.

"Call Jesus,'' Krajnc says as she continues to allow the pigs to drink the water.

"Yeah, no. What do you got in that water?'' he asks.

"Water,'' Krajnc says.

"No, no, how do I know?'' he says.

"Trust me,'' she says.

Krajnc's defence lawyers told court that they would argue the activist was acting in the public good, and therefore not breaking the law.