Protesters, counter-protesters gather at Abbotsford pig farm
Dozens of animal rights activists claimed to have “locked down” a hog farm in Abbotsford Sunday morning in response to a video allegedly depicting conditions at the facility.
The activists said in a news release that 65 people “peacefully entered” Excelsior Hog Farm this morning, while another 135 individuals gathered outside the property in support. Abbotsford police later estimated the number of people who had entered the farm to be around 50.
The demonstration came days after the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video that it says depicts the treatment of pigs at the farm.
The clip, posted on YouTube on Tuesday, appears to show dead piglets left among living animals, as well as fully grown pigs with growths and lacerations.
Abbotsford police shut down roads in the area as the crowd gathered Sunday morning, and escorted dozens of people out of the farm early in the afternoon.
One protester was arrested, and Abbotsford police Sgt. Judy Bird said there will be a criminal investigation of alleged mischief, break-and-enter and trespassing.
“The Abbotsford Police Department does recognize the fact that people have the right to protest as well as the right to speech,” Bird told reporters at the farm. “However, we also recognize the fact that this is private property and there will be a criminal investigation.”
A group of about 60 protestors that were inside an Abbotsford hog farm have been escorted out by police on a promise to appear. One protester was arrested and taken away in an APD car. @CTVVancouver pic.twitter.com/AOJMNz2X1R— Breanna Karstens-Smith (@BreannaCTV) April 28, 2019
Protest and counter-protest
Protesters wore matching black shirts reading “Meat the Victims” and carried signs and musical instruments with them.
“People have a right to know and a right to see how … their food is produced and how their food is arriving on their plate,” said Dan Moskaluk, a spokesman for the activists.
Shortly before 11:30, supporters of the the farm gathered opposite the protesters, signing a large sign that read, “We heart our farm”.
While protestors continue to gather ... the farmer’s supporters move to an open field. They bring out a sign that says “we love our farms”. #bc #Abbotsford #MeattheVictim #ctvnews pic.twitter.com/HhjW7xVzW4— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) April 28, 2019
‘Good people trying to make a good product’
Ray and Jeff Binnendyk, the brothers who operate the farm, led reporters on a tour of the facility, showing where and how their pigs are kept, and arguing that the PETA video misrepresented what goes on at the farm.
Ray Binnendyk said the days since the video was released had been “very, very difficult” for him and his family.
“We really pray that everyone sees the truth about us and sees that we are good people just trying to make a good product,” he said.
The truth, according to multiple veterinarians who were at the farm on Sunday, is that the Binnendyk family is following industry rules and regulations and taking good care of its animals.
Dr. Josh Waddington, a veterinarian who works with Excelsior regularly, said the video was taken in only a single area of the farm: Where sick animals are cared for.
“My analogy is that would be like walking into a hospital and taking pictures in the emergency room and saying that’s representative of the population in general,” Waddington said.
After being inside the farm on Sunday, protesters remained confident that the pigs are being mistreated.
“This truth is brutal,” said protester Thomas Coates. “Every one of us just walked out of there changed permanently, because what’s happening in there is unbelievable.”
The protesters said in their news release that they are calling for an end to the animal agriculture industry entirely, and their message is “animals are here with us, not for us.”
“Today we are taking a stand to speak up for animals, and we are showing the public the victims of their food choices,” they said.
“We are demanding justice, respect and equality for all animals, and we will continue to do so until the message of animal liberation is heard loud and clear and the animal exploitation industry is permanently shut down.”
The group gathered here are calling this a peaceful protest. So far at least seven police vehicles here but no confrontation outside the farm.Activists still inside the barn. #Abbotsford #bc #ctvnews pic.twitter.com/H46NDNQIWG— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) April 28, 2019
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Breanna Karstens-Smith, Melanie Nagy, and the Canadian Press