BURLINGTON—Animal Justice is condemning the tragic death of Regan Russell, a compassionate animal advocate who was killed today outside of the Fearmans Pork Inc. slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario in Canada. She was violently run over by a transport truck as she attended a peaceful vigil outside of the facility.
Ten thousand pigs are trucked into and slaughtered at the Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse every day. Advocates with the Animal Save Movement hold regular vigils outside of the slaughterhouse to document the suffering of these animals in transport. On a scorching hot day like today, many pigs are likely to arrive at the facility already dead from heat exposure.
The tragic death comes two days after the controversial agricultural gag (“ag gag”) law, Bill 156, was passed in Ontario. Bill 156 is designed to cover up animal cruelty on farms and during transport. Among other troubling provisions aimed at preventing whistleblowers and animal advocates from exposing the abuse of farmed animals, the new law aims to restrict the peaceful protest rights those who hold vigils at slaughterhouses across the province. It does so by making it an offence to “interact” with farmed animals in a transport truck—a prohibition widely denounced by animal advocates and constitutional law experts as an unconstitutional restriction of rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Today’s vigil was one of the last opportunities for a vigil before the bill becomes law.
Since Toronto Pig Save was founded in 2010, the group has inspired a global movement of hundreds of similar organizations worldwide. In 2015, Animal Save Movement founder Anita Krajnc, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief for giving water to pigs in a transport truck outside of the Fearmans slaughterhouse. Ms. Krajnc was acquitted in 2017 after a much-publicized trial. Vigils at Fearmans Pork adhere to strict safety protocols.
“Regan was a kind, elegant, strong, and courageous person,” said Anita Krajnc, founder of the Animal Save Movement. “She was a mentor to others, and she always did activism with kindness in her heart.”
Regan had been an animal advocate since 1979, attended vigils weekly for years, and cared deeply about justice for animals, racial justice, and protecting the vulnerable.
“Bill 156 was passed only days ago, yet it has already emboldened the meat industry to declare open season on animal advocates,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “This is what happens when the government doesn’t protect farmed animals from atrocious suffering. It forces citizens to show up and document that suffering themselves so the public can see what is going on behind closed doors.
“Over and over, the government was told by animal advocates and legal experts that restricting protest activities and giving sweeping powers of arrest to farmers would only increase tensions between animal advocates and the operators of factory farms and slaughterhouse, as well as those transporting animals to these facilities.”
Animal Justice and Animal Save Movement condemn any attempt by government or industry to use this senseless death to justify restricting rights to protest. Animal Save Movement advocates engage in peaceful, non-violent protest that is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Animal Justice leads the legal fight for animals in Canada. Our lawyers work to pass strong new animal protection legislation, push for the prosecution of animal abusers, and fight for animals in court. Visit www.animaljustice.ca to learn more.