Tragedy struck in Burlington last week when a truck carrying pigs to slaughter overturned on the highway. Forty pigs were killed in the accident. Fearman’s Slaughterhouse then walked the 100 remaining pigs to be killed in their facility. Animal rights protesters were on the scene to witness a terrible lack of mercy on the part of the slaughterhouse workers. Anita Krajnc of Toronto Pig Save tried desperately to save any of the traumatized pigs from being murdered. She was arrested for crossing police lines and trying to see the pigs that were being hidden from sight behind cardboard barriers. Krajnc was charged with obstructing a peace officer and breach of recognizance. This is the second time she has been arrested for her humane acts towards these animals.
Krajnc is a renowned animal activist in Toronto and the founder of Toronto Pig Save, an animal rights group that leads three weekly vigils for pigs, cows and chickens at three slaughterhouses in the local area. She is a passionate advocate for farm animals and an important figurehead in animal rights in Canada.“Toronto Pig Save began by calling vegan potlucks, and organizing meetings. In July 2011, we started doing three vigils a week,” she said. As of late, Krajnc has been appearing in the news because of a charge of criminal mischief for giving pigs water at Fearman’s slaughterhouse on June 22, 2015. The case is still being fought in court.
Krajnc was inspired to start Toronto Pig Save in 2010 during one of her walks with her dog, Mr. Bean. As she walked along Lakeshore that morning, she saw a number of trucks driving into Quality Meatpackers to slaughter pigs.
Krajnc admits that the protest last week was deeply upsetting to her.“I saw office workers holding up cardboard to hide the victims. As soon as I saw this, I walked passed them and I went over the line right away. I was in a trance. They pushed me back and I got arrested,” Krajnc says. “I’m having a difficulty coping mentally. It is such violence, such injustice. They are holding cardboard sheets to hide what is going on. It really is a tragedy that happens every day and these pigs face unimaginable horrors. It is the extra trauma of the truck crash, but what happens behind closed doors is the systemic abuse.”
Krajnc first became involved in animal rights in the 1990s at university. She previously taught human social strategy at Queen’s university and has a PhD in political science. In the last six months though, Krajnc confessed she has been struggling emotionally to cope with the continued murder of pigs, chickens and cows. “I’ve been doing five years of vigils and I’ve been stepping back lately,” Krajnc says. “I’m taking more photos of the activists. I’m burned out. I find it so traumatizing.”
Krajnc is trying to find ways to cope with the stress and trauma of seeing the animals she loves murdered weekly. “I’ve been on a healing mission since May and I’ve changed my behaviour a bit,” Krajnc confesses. “For four years, I’ve been grounded. Then I started to dread going to the cow vigils. It is cumulative. There were more and more slaughterhouse workers mocking us.”
Even though Krajnc has been personally impacted by Toronto Pig Save, she is quick to bring focus back to the pigs, who she cites as the true victims. She emphasizes that her arrest should not be the media’s focus, but instead reporters should target the way pigs are treated. Protesters caught a video of workers shooting a pig in the head at the site of the accident last week. Over 100 pigs were walked to slaughter after waiting hours trapped in the truck, and pigs that were injured were left on their side, on the road, without water for the better part of the day.
Krajnc points out that it is positive the media is interested in her court case and two charges, but she has an idea why news outlets haven’t taken an interest previously. “The media feels comfortable in reporting truck accidents, that is considered legitimate. It is easier to report on that than animal cruelty alone,” Krajnc says. “Why does my trial get so much attention? I’ve been doing vigils for five years.”
Krajnc does not give up hope though and doesn’t believe it is the people who are at fault — but instead the system itself. “I read a lot of Tolstoy. He helps me a lot in building loved-based community organizing and bearing witness,” Krajnc says. “When you are in a violent place, it is easy to the hate the injustice— and the people too. But it is the system I hate, not the people.”
“When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to him who suffers, and try to help him.” – from Leo Tolstoy’s A Calendar of Wisdom
Regardless of the legal action against Anita Krajnc, she and the rest of the heroes at Toronto Pig Save will continue their work to show pigs, cows, and chickens that someone cares about them and is willing to stand up for their rights.
“I’m giving water to thirsty pigs. It hasn’t changed. We are following the golden rule. No regrets. I tell the truth. Do with it what you will.”