An Abbotsford hog farm that was the subject of protests and secretly recorded video that led to a 2022 trial is now the target of another group of animal activists.
The Toronto-based group Animal Justice issued a press release on Thursday (Nov. 16) with video they say was secretly recorded between April and June 2023 at Excelsior Hog Farm on Harris Road in Abbotsford.
“The new footage is among the most gruesome ever recorded at a farm in Canada,” the release states.
The group does not indicate how the footage was obtained, but they say it shows:
• dead and rotting pigs, including piglets whose carcasses were partially eaten;
• crushed and stillborn piglets inside crates;
• pigs kicked in the stomach and face;
• pigs jabbed with a metal rod and hit with plastic boards;
• pigs with hernias, prolapses, blood laceration and open wounds; and
• water troughs that appear to be filled with feces and blood.
Animal Justice says the footage has been turned over to the BC SPCA, along with a “legal complaint” detailing alleged violations under the Criminal Code and the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals Act.
Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer with the BC SPCA, said she anticipates the agency will start an investigation into the allegations.
She said the BC SPCA has received the written complaint and is awaiting the full range of video footage to be supplied by Animal Justice.
Moriarty said the abbreviated video posted online “contained some very disturbing images.”
“It’s a five-minute clip, but it appears to depict violations of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (and) potentially the Criminal Code, and it definitely shows practices that are clearly not in accordance with the industry-endorsed national farm animal codes of practice,” she said.
Excelsior was previously the subject of similar allegations by the group Meat the Victims, which in 2019 released video footage – through the group PETA – that they said was covertly recorded at the farm and that showed alleged animal abuse.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
The group also held a protest at the farm on April 28, 2019, after which a total of 21 charges were laid against four of the protesters, who dubbed themselves the Excelsior Four.
Charges were later dropped against one of them, and the other three – Roy Sasano, Nick Schafer and Amy Soranno – went to trial last year.
Sasano was acquitted, while Soranno and Schafer were each convicted of break-and-enter and received a 30-day jail sentence and one year of probation.
Their appeal on the matter will be heard starting Nov. 23.
The BC SPCA investigated the 2019 allegations into Excelsior Hog Farm, but no animal-cruelty charges resulted.
Animal Justice says it is calling for laws requiring cameras that livestream directly online to be installed inside farms and slaughterhouses.
“It’s time for B.C. to introduce legal standards for animal welfare on farms, and proactive inspections so that animal suffering no longer remains hidden,” says lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice.
The Binnendyk family, who owns the farm, released a statement on Friday afternoon (Nov. 17) in response to the allegations:
“In regards to the footage released in November 2023, it should be noted that much of the content was previously used in 2019. Following those events, the BC SPCA was invited onto the farm and a review of our production practices and animal welfare standards resulted in no sanction or action on behalf of the B.C. animal welfare agency at that time (or since).
“Excelsior Hog Farm is in compliance with all national food safety and animal care programs. As livestock farmers, the welfare and well-being of the animals under our care has been and will continue to be of utmost concern and consideration for us.
“Reasonable Canadians should ask themselves about the motives behind these well-funded professional protesters. As one protestor said, with a bullhorn in our faces, ‘We don’t hate your farm, we just want you to farm something else.’
“We believe that their true motive is to seek to eliminate all animal farming and animal protein consumption. They will use any means necessary, including breaking and entering, trespassing, manipulated footage, imported protesters, ‘gotcha’ clickbait embedded media, threats of violence to our families, and high-priced lawyers.”