Protestors gather at the BC SPCA following the first court appearance of the four individuals charged in the Excelsior Hog Farm incident from April 2019. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Four Abbotsford pig-farm activists now facing 21 charges after first court appearance

Protests occur at Abbotsford Provincial Courthouse and BC SPCA following Thursday’s appearance

Four animal rights activists were in a provincial courtroom Thursday (Sept. 3) in their first hearing for break-and-enter and mischief charges linked to a large protest at an Abbotsford hog farm last year.

Dozens of fellow activists lined up at 9 a.m. outside the courthouse in Abbotsford in support of Amy Soranno, Jeff Luke Rigear, Roy Makoto Sasano and Nicholas Steven George Schafer.

RELATED: Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

The four now face 21 charges, with Soranno herself facing five counts of break-and-enter and two counts of mischief. They will next appear at Abbotsford provincial court on Nov. 2.

Soranno spoke to media outside of the courthouse and stated that she and the others gathered are upset because they say Excelsior Hog Farm should be the ones facing charges.

“Excelsior Hog Farm was caught committing criminal animal abuse,” she said, claiming video footage shows workers shocking pigs in the face with electrical prods and many other abusive behaviours. “And what consequences did they face? There were none. The industry abuses animals within communities and there is zero oversight on farms. The industry regulates itself and that should concern anyone who cares about transparency and accountability.”

The BC SPCA investigated the original claims of animal abuse submitted by Soranno and her group, but in May 2019 they said there was insufficient evidence to support the recommendation of charges to Crown counsel. The case was reopened in August 2019, but the same decision was made to not pursue charges against Excelsior. That decision was one of the reasons why a similar gathering of protestors occurred at the Abbotsford SPCA at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

A press release stated that protestors believe the BC SPCA has not held Excelsior Hog Farm accountable for their proven criminal animal cruelty and the charges against the activists are partially due to the SPCA turning in whistleblowers, despite assurances of anonymity and with no warrant from the police.

The group also believes that the BC SPCA is working with the police and the factory farms, rather than on behalf of the animals. An online petition calling for charges against Excelsior has gathered more than 30,000 signatures, but the BCSPCA has closed the file.

RELATED: BC SPCA says no charges against Abbotsford hog farm

“The system is failing animals unimaginably,” Soranno said. “Excelsior Hog Farm has clearly committed several instances of animal cruelty, but they are still regarded as one of the best in the industry. And if such immense suffering is the norm on the so-called best hog farms, then we encourage the public to consider what happens at the worst of them.”

Speaking outside of the BC SPCA, Sasano said this case is an important one for both people and animals.

“We’re going to be using this case to bring even more and more attention to the injustice that happened at Excelsior and what happens to animals around the world,” he said. “When this is done, we will have Excelsior’s feet over the fire; we’re going to have the BC SPCA’s feet over the fire because they’re not doing their jobs. We’re going to have the entire system and the Abbotsford PD exposed for their part in protecting animal abusers and going after us – the people trying to protect the animals.”

RELATED: VIDEO: One person arrested at protest at Abbotsford pig farm

Last year, dozens of activists stormed the Harris Road hog farm to protest what they said was the inhumane treatment of animals at the site. More than 60 people rushed into Excelsior Hog Farm in late April 2019, with dozens sitting “in solidarity” with pigs.

The protest took less place than a month after PETA released hidden-camera footage which it said showed horrific conditions of animals at the farm.

Courtprotest

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Simon Gibson watching the vote count come in at the Best Western Hotel in Mission. Kevin Mills photo.
Abbotsford-Mission riding one of the closest races in the province

BC Liberal incumbent Simon Gibson leading by under 100 votes

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

BC Liberal candidate Bruce Banman speaks at his campaign headquarters Monday evening. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News
Liberal Bruce Banman declared winner in Abbotsford South

Banman defeats NDP, Green and Christian Heritage Party opponents

Abbotsford West BC Liberal candidate Michael de Jong greets a small group of supporters at his campaign office Monday evening. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News
Liberal Michael de Jong declared winner in Abbotsford West

Incumbent MLA wins again in Abbotsford West, has held seat since 1994

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Most Read