VANCOUVER – Animal Justice is disappointed in a decision today from the British Columbia Court of Appeal, which upheld convictions against Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer. The two were convicted of break and enter and mischief for their role in a peaceful sit-in in 2019 at Excelsior Hog Farm—a factory pig farm in Abbotsford, BC that has been repeatedly exposed for extreme animal cruelty. On appeal, they argued the trial judge blocked them from presenting a full defence by refusing to let the jury see footage of suffering pigs, and refusing to let them argue that the farm had engaged in unlawful animal abuse.
Ms. Soranno and Mr. Schafer now plan to appeal their unprecedented sentence of 30 days in jail—the only known jail sentence in Canadian history for peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience. Farms are seldom prosecuted for illegal cruelty, even in egregious cases. But even when they are prosecuted, farmers almost never face jail time, even for acts like ripping the wings off of live birds, sexually abusing animals, or beating animals to death with shovels.
Although authorities have relentlessly pursued those responsible for exposing animal abuse at Excelsior, the farm itself has yet to face a single charge—despite multiple videos since 2019 depicting extreme animal suffering. As recently as November 2023, Animal Justice released footage from Excelsior showing dead and rotting pigs, pigs kicked in the face and jabbed with rods, pigs with bloody wounds, and feces and blood smeared throughout the farm.
“Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer have faced unprecedented punishment simply for exposing light on the ugly truth about animal abuse on farms,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “Yet Excelsior Hog Farm has never been held accountable for dead and wounded pigs, pigs being hit and kicked, and pigs living in feces-filled and blood-smeared cages.”
“The Excelsior case exposes serious problems with the lack of oversight and accountability on farms in Canada. It is deeply troubling that our legal system gives abusive farms a get-out-of-jail-free card, and attempts to jail the compassionate citizens who shine light on animal suffering.”