Pigs headed for slaughter were in distress when Anita Krajnc gave them water: expert

Anita Krajnc faces a mischief charge for pouring water into a pig trailer when the animals were en route to a Burlington, Ont., slaughterhouse. The hog farm owner and the truck driver both say the pigs were transported according to industry standards.

Hog farm owner and truck driver both say pigs were transported according to industry standards

Armaiti May use this screenshot from a Toronto Pig Save video to illustrate her point in court that the pigs appeared to be breathing as quickly as 180 breaths per minute.

The pigs Anita Krajnc gave water to as they were minutes away from a slaughterhouse appeared to be in "severe distress" from the heat inside the trailer, according to an expert in animal welfare. But she's never examined them, so she can't say for sure.

I was not there to examine the pigs and they've been slaughtered now.- Armaiti May, animal welfare expert

Armaiti May testified Thursday at the trial of Krajnc, 49, of Toronto, who is charged with mischief for pouring bottled water through the small openings of the metal trailer to the pigs as they were headed to Fearman's Pork Inc. in Burlington, Ont., on June 22, 2015.

She faces a maximum of six months in jail or a $5,000 fine if convicted. She has pleaded not guilty.

Analyzing a video taken by Toronto Pig Save, of which Krajnc is a member, May said some of the pigs appeared to be breathing as quickly as 180 breaths per minute. One pig, she said, was foaming at the mouth.

"I was not there to examine the pigs, and they've been slaughtered now," said May.

"I can say with a fair degree of certainty that in all likelihood they were in severe distress."

Krajnc and other members of Toronto Pig Save hold vigils outside the slaughterhouse to "bear witness." On hot days, they pour water through the trailer openings and into the mouths of the pigs.

On June 22, 2015, Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf was hauling 190 pigs from Van Boekel Hog Farms near Mount Elgin, Ont.

Veldjesgraaf got out of the truck that morning and told Krajnc to stop, saying he didn't know what she was pouring into the trailer. Krajnc said it was water.

"These are not humans, you dumb frickin' broad," he said.

Both Veldjesgraaf and hog farmer Eric Van Boekel said this week that the pigs were watered and transported according to industry standards. They also said the pigs got water when they were unloaded at the slaughterhouse about 400 metres away.

Anita Krajnc gives pigs water near a slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ont. Krajnc now faces a criminal mischief charge for the activity. (Elli Garlin)

Both said it's unsafe for protestors to put their arms near the trailer.

"We tell our children not to play in the streets," said Van Boekel, who transports 110,000 pigs per year for his contract with Sofina Foods. "I think everybody can take it from there."

Both said they worried about the contents of Krajnc's bottle, which Halton Police called "unknown liquid" in their report.

Veldjesgraaf also told police that he thought Toronto Pig Save needed to be stopped because "they're messing with our livelihood."

Krajnc's case has attracted intense interest from animal activists, who filled the gallery Wednesday and Thursday. They use hashtags such as #IStandWithAnita and carry posters that say "Compassion is not a crime."

Anita Krajnc supporters hold signs outside the Ontario Court of Justice in Burlington this week. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Later in the trial, Krajnc's lawyers, James Silver and Gary Grill, plan to introduce a virtual reality video of the inside of a slaughterhouse. That will likely happen when Krajnc testifies on Oct. 3.

Why do you call a pig 'it' and a dog 'him'? That's what we're talking about.- James Silver, lawyer

Silver and Grill spent much of Thursday quizzing Van Boekel on a handful of past environmental convictions, and the methods he uses to keep hogs on his farm.

Some of those practices, used industry-wide, include filing down the teeth of newborn piglets, and crushing their tails until they eventually fall off.

Toronto Pig Save volunteers give water to pigs heading to slaughter in Burlington, Ont. One of them, Anita Krajnc, now faces a criminal mischief charge. (Anita Krajnc/Facebook)

In the end, Van Boekel likened the June 22 incident to someone feeding a dog against an owner's will.

"If I go into a Toronto park and ask somebody walking a dog to feed [the dog] something, if they say no and I do it, I've committed an offence," he said.

Grill and Silver, meanwhile, see the trial as a platform to ask larger questions about the meat production industry.

"You see a locked car. There's a baby in the locked car. It's hot out..." Silver said after Thursday's session. "What do you do? You break the window. It's a baby in a hot car.

"You see a dog in a hot car. What do you do? You break the window. It's a dog in a hot car. You see a pig in a hot trailer. What do you do?

"Why do you call a pig 'it' and a dog 'him'? That's what we're talking about." 

Grill and Silver also plan to call experts in ecology and agriculture, nutritional science and animal behaviour and intelligence. 

The trial resumes Oct. 3.