An Abbotsford hog farm that was targeted by animal rights activists in April will not face charges of animal cruelty, says the B.C. SPCA.
Excelsior Hog Farm on Vye Road was occupied by about 200 animal rights activists last month, after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a video — allegedly filed at the farm — showing graphic images of pigs crammed into pens, unable to move.
Some of the pigs are sickly and covered with tumours, while others lay dead on the ground with piglets walking around and on top of them.
But B.C. SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk says the organization was unable to verify the video, which lacked timestamps or geographic indicators.
“The individuals or individual responsible for filming has not come forward to provide a statement to accompany the video,” Chortyk told Global News.
“This evidence is essential to the case as without it there is not sufficient legal evidence to support recommending any type of charge of distress before Crown counsel would even consider a charge.”
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Chortyk said prosecutors would need to know where and when the video was shot before forwarding it to a veterinarian who could speak to whether the pigs were in distress.
“Simply having a video clip is not enough to build a case for recommendation for charges,” she said.
The SPCA did visit the farm as a part of its investigation, and failed to find anything on the premises that would warrant charges.
In an emailed statement, PETA spokesperson Moira Colley stood by the video, asserting it “revealed the misery of severely injured and lame pigs, including some with volleyball-size hernias, suffering and dying in pain in dungeon-like conditions.”
Asked why no one came forward to give a statement with the video, Colley said the person who shot it did not have faith in the legal system.
“This footage was captured by someone who has seen laws and the justice system fail animals over and over. Decent people must clamor for this abusive industry to end and anyone who was disturbed by the video can help by never eating pigs,” she said.
Global News was unable to reach a representative from Excelsior for comment.
But in a previous interview, co-owner Ray Binnedyk — a board member with the BC Pork Producer’s Association — said his company was being smeared.
“Some of the pictures were staged,” he said. “We believe they were staged because some of those pictures couldn’t have been from our farm. We’re not sure.”
Binnendyk said pigs at Excelsior are able to leave their pens on their own to walk around freely, and that his is one of the first farms in B.C. to adopt the practice.
In another previous interview, farm veterinarian Josh Waddington said the pigs’ welfare was checked every two to three months.
He said the video showed “the worst light of the farm,” but added the pigs shown in the video suffering from injuries and illness were confined to the farm’s hospital area, that and those animals were being treated.
— With files form Sean Boynton