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Animal Rights Activist On Trial In Canada For Giving Water To Pigs

An animal rights activist is being tried in Canada on charges of criminal mischief because she gave water to pigs bound for the slaughterhouse.

Anita Krajnc faces a maximum of six months in jail or a $5,000 fine if convicted, and she has pleaded not guilty, according to the CBC. The pigs were on their way to Fearman's Pork Inc. in Ontario last summer.

Animal rights group Toronto Pig Save posted a video, which you can watch here:

First, it shows Krajnc approaching a truck full of pigs and asking the driver to give one of the pigs some water.

He replies: "Don't give him anything. Do not put water in there!" She says, "Jesus said if they are thirsty, give them water."

His response: "No, you know what, these are not humans, you dumb frickin' broad!" He threatens to call the cops as she repeatedly says, "Have some compassion." When she attempts to insert the water bottle through a slot in the trailer for the pigs to drink, he threatens to slap it out of her hands.

Speaking outside the courthouse, Krajnc told reporters that this trial is about "putting pigs in the spotlight. ... We want people to see them as individuals and not property."

She told The Washington Post that her defense lawyers will argue she was not breaking the law but acting in the public good.

The trial opened this week and held two sessions. On Thursday, animal welfare expert Armaiti May testified in court that "in all likelihood they were in severe distress," the CBC reported. May said she couldn't be sure: "I was not there to examine the pigs, and they've been slaughtered now."

Toronto Pig Save, which Krajnc founded, regularly holds "vigils" in front of Fearman's and other local slaughterhouses to "bear witness" to the animals' final moments, according to the group.

The driver, Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf, and hog farmer Eric Van Boekel maintained "the pigs were watered and transported according to industry standards," as the CBC reported.

Veldjesgraaf testified that "his main concern was over what was in the water that Krajnc's group gave the pigs, and whether it might contaminate the livestock," CBC reported.

As the Star reported, Van Boekel told the court that he had other safety concerns: "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."

Defense lawyer Gary Grill told the broadcaster that he hopes "Justice David Harris will wear the [virtual reality] gear to experience what it's like being an animal in a slaughterhouse," which "will be instrumental in helping Harris understand Krajnc's viewpoint as an animal rights activist, and why she gives water to pigs outside slaughterhouses."

The trial will continue on Oct. 3, when Krajnc is expected to testify.

The case has attracted the attention of other animal rights activists, who are tweeting messages of support using the hashtags #PigTrial and #StandWithAnita.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.