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Mischief charge against Ontario woman who gave water to slaughter-bound pigs dismissed

WATCH ABOVE: Closing arguments were delivered in Anita Krajnc's "pig trial" on criminal mischief charge in March. Mark Carcasole reports.

A Toronto woman who gave water to pigs on a truck headed to slaughter had her mischief charge dismissed by a judge in a Milton, Ont., courtroom on Thursday.

Anita Krajnc, an activist with the group Toronto Pig Save, pleaded not guilty, although she had admitted that she gave water to the pigs.

Justice David Harris, in delivering his verdict, said he was satisfied the accused gave water to the pigs despite the Crown’s assertion the liquid was an “unknown substance” and ruled it did not constitute mischief.

“Judge Harris’ ruling today is further validation that compassion is never a crime,” Krajnc told reporters outside the courthouse Thursday morning.

“Compassion should never be illegal. The golden rule applies to all animals, including giving water to a thirsty, panting pig on her way to slaughter.”

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The judge also ruled Krajnc did not “interfere with the lawful use or enjoyment of any property.”

READ MORE: Ontario woman who gave water to pigs headed to slaughter compared to Gandhi, Mandela at trial

“I think it’s very shocking that I was charged for giving thirsty pigs water,” Krajnc told Global News during a vigil in front of Fearmans Slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ont., Thursday morning prior to her court appearance.

“I think it happened because we do these weekly vigils in front of Fearmans Slaughterhouse and our group has been growing in size and we give water in the summer heat to these pigs because they don’t have sweat glands, and they are thirsty and hot.”

One of Krajnc’s lawyers has said Krajnc was acting in the public good and was therefore not breaking the law.

But the Crown argued that the pigs were the property of a farmer, and Krajnc was interfering with his property when she gave them water.

Court heard that on June 22, 2015, Krajnc was dumping liquid from a water bottle into a truck carrying pigs in Burlington, Ont., as the vehicle approached the Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse.

Representatives from Ontario’s farming and agriculture industry said they are disappointed with the judge’s ruling as they believe the decision may put the future of livestock transportation at risk.

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READ MORE: Ontario activist on trial for giving water to pigs arrested at slaughterhouse protest

“For us it’s about the risk to food safety and I guess the judge didn’t see that in this case,” Bruce Kelly, program manager for Farm and Food Care Ontario, said.

“We can’t have a food system where people can interfere with food in any stage of the delivery. It’s not safe.”

Pat Jilesen, the director of Ontario Federation of Agriculture, told reporters outside the courthouse on Thursday he doesn’t believe Krajnc intentionally tried to harm the pigs when she gave them water but defended the driver who confronted the activist.

“The driver did the right thing, in my opinion of course. He’s not to know what is in that bottle,” Jilesen said. “But the judge did highlight that she did interfere with the transport of animals, putting those lives of those animals and people at risk.”

Krajnc said she intends to continue giving water to thirsty pigs and isn’t concerned about facing further criminal charges.

“I think it’s important to go outside of your comfort zone and do what you think is right. And if that leads to criminal charges, that’s OK,” she said.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a statement following the verdict praising the judge’s decision.

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“The judge recognized compassion as a virtue in this case, and common sense prevailed in the finding that Anita Krajnc was not guilty for showing mercy to terrified, thirsty pigs on their way to slaughter,” the group said.

VIDEO: Anita Krajnc landed into some legal trouble after giving water to pigs that were being transported to a slaughterhouse.

-With a file from The Canadian Press