This morning in Burlington, a city located about an hour’s drive west of Toronto, a truck overturned on a side road. The truck was headed to Fearmans Pork plant, a slaughterhouse that “processes” around 10,000 pigs per day. The driver suffered minor injuries and as of this posting, police are still investigating what exactly caused the crash.
The truck was carrying approximately 180 pigs and 40 were confirmed to have died as a result of the crash. The over 100 pigs that survived were either euthanized on the spot or, if they were “lucky” enough to still be able to walk after having already endured being in a steel trailer that flipped with them inside of it, were – unbelievably – walked the remaining distance to their deaths. Since their ultimate destination was Fearmans anyway, the company decided it wouldn’t be worth changing trucks for and instead had its employees herd the bloodied, injured and scared pigs to an even greater terror.
Toronto Pig Save, an activist group founded by Anita Krajnc, holds regular weekly vigils at Fearmans to bear witness to those very trucks that go in full of live animals and come out empty. Though a vigil wasn’t scheduled there today, once news of the accident broke, Anita and other activists immediately headed out to Burlington to document the scene, and perhaps save some of the wounded animals who were still alive yet no longer considered useful, profitable or “viable for processing” by the industry. Steve Jenkins also arrived on the scene, dad to Esther the Wonder Pig and co-founder and owner of Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary (HEEFS). Everyone took to social media and Steve Jenkins reached out directly to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), offering to take one of the injured animals he could clearly see languishing against a fence.
His requests were ignored. Other activists there also offered to care for the injured animals and/or pay to take them away to safety. They too were disregarded. The staff of Fearmans continued to put up makeshift barriers to block people from viewing the animals as they rounded them up only to slaughter them later. Firefighters, police and media were all at the scene. And all the while the sounds of wounded and traumatized pigs can be heard in the background. As Steve Jenkins wrote in a very moving Facebook post earlier this evening:
“In the four years I have known Esther, I have never heard the noises I heard coming from those pigs today. It was sheer terror and I will never forget it.”
Perhaps his most searing words:
“But, the hardest part was witnessing firsthand the total indifference shown for their suffering, by those responsible for their care.”
He describes how the injured animals were stunned with a bolt gun where they lay in plain site, their bodies carried away by a bulldozer:
“The complete disregard, and lack of even the most basic acts of compassion towards the injured animals, was beyond devastating. To think that the individuals who are responsible for the welfare of ‘food animals’ in Canada would prefer to see an injured animal denied medical care for hours, and ultimately disposed of, as opposed to rehabilitated at a qualified sanctuary, is incomprehensible.”
This is the world we’re living in. Fearmans Pork did more than just turn a blind eye today: they actively and quite deliberately chose to be cruel. They chose to respond not just indifferently – they chose willful neglect over care, inhumanity over mercy and kindness, death over life. The opportunity to rescue, heal and help were not just dismissed, the precise opposite was done instead. They wounded these animals further by not treating their injuries and killed them all in the end – sparing none – despite repeated pleas for their pardon. Today, Fearmans ignored both the literal cries of human and animal.
The driver of the truck was taken to hospital and treated for his injuries. The roughly 140 surviving and injured pigs were given no such consideration and as the trucks continue to roll into Fearmans day after day, hour after hour, neither will any of the pigs on those trucks either. This is the systematic cruelty of our “food” system and if a corporation is able to behave like this in broad daylight, with law enforcement, media and members of the public all present with no one but activists batting an eye, what do you think goes on behind closed doors and out of view? I can assure you, if “basic acts of compassion” toward farm animals are being rejected in plain sight, then it’s not difficult to confirm time and time again the abhorrent misery and savagery that goes on behind these “farms” and “processing” walls.
This is the world we’re living in. What happened at Fearmans today, as sickening and heartbreaking as it was, does not have to be in vain. It is yet another opportunity for us to shake the scales from our eyes, and to wake up to the reality of our “food”. These animals were not spared their lives today but we can still spare them from our plates.