On 24th June 2024, the British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned the jail sentences for animal rights activists Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer, who in April 2019 participated in a peaceful sit-in at Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.

On 12th October 2022, the two activists were sentenced to 30 days in prison and 12 months probation for break-and-enter and mischief at the pig farm. The Crown was seeking 90 days in jail for both, and the judge ordered them to serve their sentences on weekends.  However, their appeal for the sentence has now been successful and they will only need to serve house arrest and probation.  

On an Instagram post, Animal Justice wrote, “Ms. Soranno & Mr. Schafer were convicted of criminal mischief & break & enter in 2022 following a trial, & sentenced to 30 days in jail—the ONLY known jail sentence in Canada for a non-violent act of civil disobedience. Their sentence for exposing animal cruelty was MORE SEVERE than almost any recent sentence for a farm convicted of animal cruelty. The Court of Appeal’s decision notes that their jail sentence was without precedent, & instead imposed a 120-day conditional sentence (i.e., house arrest) plus one year of probation.”

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 videos.

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Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.