On 12th October 2022, two Canadian animal rights activists, Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer were sentenced to 30 days in prison and 12 months probation for break-and-enter and mischief at the Excelsior Hog Farm near Abbotsford, British Columbia, in April 2019. The Crown was seeking 90 days in jail for both. They will serve their sentences on weekends. They plan to appeal both the judge’s sentence and the conviction.
Their 2019 action was sparked by the release of a video by animal rights group PETA, which showed dead piglets as well as the corpse of a larger pig, and some pigs having trouble standing. It also recorded workers using electric prods on pigs’ faces and castrating piglets without anaesthetic. The SPCA investigated the PETA video (which they received anonymously) but did not recommend charges, perhaps because of difficulties in proving where it was recorded. As a consequence, Soranno and Schafer, along with Roy Sasano and Geoff Regier (together known colloquially as the “Excelsior 4”), went to the farm and recorded their own videos. They were later arrested and charged for that, and Soranno and Schafer were convicted in July 2022. All of Regier’s charges were dropped in May, while Sasano was acquitted.
Schafer said after the Judge sentenced them to jail, “I’m not surprised. It’s kind of what we expected… I’m upset. I don’t feel justice has been served. We try hard to fight for the greater good.” Soranno said outside the court, “Non-violent, civil disobedience is not a crime. It shouldn’t be criminalized…I stand firm in the fact that no matter what legal repercussions we face, it still would pale in comparison to what those animals endured.” The judge said breaking the law for political purposes was not acceptable and that the sentence had to send a message that would deter others.