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Toronto Pig Save continues bearing witness and explains pig virus in Canada

Jan 22, 14- Toronto Pig Save (TPS) advocates gathered to bear witness for the pigs on their way to the Quality Meat Packers. The group gave a strong voice to innocent pigs during 2013. Their YouTube channel is gaining popularity and one of their videos from last summer made it to the HLN’s Jane Valez Mitchell show. They didn’t stop advocating during the unbearably hot summer of 2013, and they will not stop during the extreme cold of 2014.

Toronto Pig Save
Toronto Pig Save - Jo-Anne McArthur

People were being told to stay inside their homes because of the cold temperatures. Torontonians were glued to the television to see what Mayor Rob Ford was up to. But, at the traffic island at Strachan Ave. and Lakeshore, TPS advocates have held six vigils since the start of 2014.

Founder of TPS, Anita Krajnc, accepted an interview with

Anita your courage and leadership are admirable. Rain or shine you and members of TPS are there to bear witness and also to document the experience. Could you describe the spirit of a Torontonian animal advocate? How do you motivate them?

I was surprised that on the cold Sunday, January 19 vigil, 45 people came, including 14 new people, some of whom live in the condos nearby. Nothing makes us happier than when new people come out to bear witness. I think what motivates people to come out in extreme weather is their extreme love for animals, and wanting to protest the incredible injustice of how they are treated by the animal exploitation industry. They have seen our photos and videos of these amazing gentle creatures and their suffering eyes and faces in social media, and occasionally in mass media. People are attracted to a love-based, grassroots movement in which they can play a part, so they come, even in the most prohibitive cold weather. They say if the pigs are suffering so much, the least I can do is stand by them for a short while at the vigils.

During this harsh winter, what are the different dangers that pigs face during transport?

Pigs face frostbite and hypothermia if the panels to the transport trucks are open and pigs are near the portholes. This is especially true if the trucks are crowded, in which case the pigs can’t shift away from the cold air. The wind chill is much higher on the highway and can add -10 or -20°C of cold to the temperatures faced by pigs in the trucks.

On the last video posted on TPS YouTube channel, we see a badly beaten pig. Is there any way of knowing what farm he/she came from?

The badly beaten pig had wounds all over her body. It is horrific to see this. Many of the pigs in that truck had bruises. We would have to get the US DOT number on the side of the truck to identify the truck and trucking company, and look at the time we saw it and inquire or investigate which farm the truck came from at that time.

Has the Toronto Humane Society taken any steps in watching over the pigs that come into Quality Meat Packers?

We are working with the Humane Societies and other groups. Dean Maher, VP for outreach at THS, joined me to bear witness outside the unloading area for the pig transport trucks on a cold day. Dean, in his own capacity, is currently showing evidence of our video and photos of a pig with purple ears and torso, to veterinarians and others to see what legal actions can be taken.

Certain people, although they are shown images, refuse to accept that pigs are sentient beings, and they claim that their “love” for bacon is always stronger. They think of themselves first before anyone else. Do you think they are also blind to the many health risks of eating pork?

I think a selfish response is completely unethical: appetite never trumps concern for cruelty to animals, especially when there are many healthy, delicious vegan alternatives. Everyone knows that a good person opposes cruelty to animals. I think when a few boisterous people make this claim about appetite trumping all, they don’t really look or see the evidence or know who these animals are. They turn a blind eye at their own karmic risk. Paradoxically, they are not acting in an enlightened self-interested way, since pig flesh and meat and diary, in general, are filled with saturated fats and directly linked to degenerative diseases like cancer and heart disease, obesity, and many other health issues. Our group promotes and distributes the film Forks over Knives—the best film on the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet—to help people act in an enlightened way and benefit all.

It was a bit surprising to read about the Ontario government being concerned about the second case of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED). The press release states that PED is not a risk to human health or food safety. Could you tell us what are the dangers of consuming pork? Why are they not concerned about ractopamine?

The porcine epidemic diarrhea is of concern and is spread through contaminated manure and its oral transmission. Last week, a case of PED was confirmed in Middlesex County in Ontario and there is a risk of the spread of this illness from local truck traffic from infected areas in Ontario and the United States. A second case was confirmed in the Chatham-Kent region this week. There are additional areas being investigated. According to Dr. Chris Byra, the manager of the Canadian Swine Health Intelligence Network, who is quoted in the January 29 issue of Farmscape: “The disease is very infectious. It takes a very small amount of manure to spread that to another pig, probably a gram or less. On the other side though it's quite easily killed by almost any disinfectant. It has some characteristics that make it a little unique in that it survives well, best in cold weather, so these are the most critical months right now. But it can also survive in warm weather which is unusual for this type of virus, this corona virus. The vectors of transmission then are anything with manure from pigs on it.”

According to Ontario pork producers on swine health management and biosecurity the transportation trucks need to be disinfected. In my opinion, the transportation trucks of the pigs seem like they have not been cleaned in ages!

Yes, I find this recommendation the worst enforced code possible. The trucks are always filthy and smell sickly. They are filled with pigs who have had to endure the filthiest and most crowded conditions in a feces and ammonia-ridden, windowless warehouse—really a concentration camp. The cleanest animals have to endure the meanest and cruelest unsanitary conditions due to the greed of the factory farm industry… it is this cruel and greedy industry, which is causing pigs and humans to become ill and infectious.

Ractopamine is a suspected carcinogen and has been banned in over 160 countries but is legal in Canada. According to the Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals (CETFA): it is used in Canada with pigs under the name Paylean. It is fed to pigs in the last 28 days of their lives and causes hyper-excitability and heightened stress levels leading to more lame animals who are too tired to stand up—what the industry calls metabolic downers, arriving at slaughterhouses. This results in the greater use of the electric prod—really an instrument of torture—and more cruelty to the animals.

On Jan 29, 2014, it was declared that the total number of PED cases in Ontario had gone up to 4 infected pigs. Dr. Tim Blackwell - Veterinary Specialist, Swine/Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAFRA) wrote about biosecurity in 2003 and the information was never reviewed again. It is more than 10 years ago that Canadians are aware of how animals can get contaminated. At the moment OMAFRA is trying to find the source of contamination of the pigs. It shows that protocols are not seriously followed. Dr. Blackwell wrote: “For productivity, profitability, producer enthusiasm and food safety, biosecurity is the key.” So, how can OMAFRA say that PED is not a risk for human consumption? The contradictions are very obvious. Do you believe the media does not cover this topic enough in order to outrage society?

It’s the duty of the media to do investigative journalism and speak truth to power. The truth about factory farms is getting out thanks to documentary filmmakers and groups utilizing social media—a democratic forum for the most part. The mainstream media cannot help but touch on these issues of widespread concern, but it is acting as a follower, not a leader working at the frontiers of an issue that’s been around for a long time. How bad does the crisis have to get for it to be an issue for it to be a prime concern on the agenda of political leaders and a media issue?

TPS has touched the life of so many people all over the world. What is TPS's goal for 2014?

Our goals are to build a mass-based, grassroots movement of individuals from all walks of life to bear witness at our weekly vigils. Toronto Pig Save and its affiliates, Toronto Cow Save and Toronto Chicken Save, are keen on getting new people to bear witness first hand as part of a collective at our weekly vigils. It’s a transformative experience and has made many people go vegan, and, just as important, to become daily, vocal animal advocates and activists. I always like to say, listen to the millions of farmed animals, communicate with them: they want us there to bear witness to their—really unimaginable—suffering in order to change the world for them and all of us. Animal justice spells justice for us all in the short term and long run! We, also, will work hard to continue the growth of our Save Movement—there are now 20 Save groups around the world. We would like to see vigils and people organizing to bear witness at every slaughterhouse, until they are all closed down. As Tolstoy said, “As long as there are slaughterhouses there will be battlefields.” A nonviolent, vegan world is an ideal so meaningful to ethics, environmental protection, and public health, that it is a privilege and an absolute duty worth pursuing with the greatest passion and commitment every single day of one’s life!

Watch the Part 2 of the video of Toronto Pig Save advocates giving water to thirsty pigs.

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