Warning: This article contains graphic content that might not be suitable for some audiences. This article includes disturbing images, graphic videos and material that could trigger readers.
On April 24, 2019, PETA released a horrifying video of a BC farm showcasing the terrible living conditions that pigs are reportedly living in. The footage was leaked by an internal source at Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, BC. Since it’s release, the video has gone viral sparking controversy across the country. The BC SPCA and PETA are now working together to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter. In an interview with PETA, Narcity was able to gain insights into the ongoing investigation at Excelsior Hog Farm.
In this report, we look at PETA's ongoing investigation at Abbotsford's Excelsior Hog Farm and the reports of animal cruelty reported there, how the BC business has responded and what we can expect from the investigation.
Dan Paden, vice president at PETA, told Narcity in an interview that the video was captured by a concerned member of the public who had reason to believe that the pigs were suffering. He documented what he reportedly saw and then passed it along to PETA for an investigation. The citizen has asked to remain anonymous.
According to Paden, over 130,000 people have seen the video. Following the intense coverage, a protest was held inside the Abbotsford farm on April 28, 2019. During this protest, about 200 people arrived at the farm with another 50 entering the barn.
With protestors sporting “meat the victim” shirts, this labelled peaceful protest was a public demonstration rallying for the ethical treatment of animals.
Paden has stated that PETA had nothing to do with the organization of the protest; however, they are happy it happened. “We applaud the people that stand up for animals including those 200 kind souls that protested on Sunday.”
Due to the nationwide attention that this video has drawn, an investigation is currently being lead by the BC SPCA. Although all eyes are on the farm, they have yet to respond in what Paden describes as a meaningful way.
“We have not heard from the farm. Their time would be better spent taking care of the pigs that remain in their hands and answering questions for the SPCA,” Paden.
Paden calls the lack of response unsurprising. While the farm has not publicly made a comment, the BC Pork Producers Association (BCPPA) has. According to their statement, the video “lacks context and understanding.” They were quick to follow by saying “some of the scenes are concerning.”
Following the video, the BCPPA sent a veterinarian to the farm to ensure that “national standards were continuing to be met.” In the statement, BCPPA claims that hog farms, like this one, benefit from regularly scheduled vet visits. Paden has been told that a vet is supposed to visit the farm every three months.
“It looked like a pretty transparent attempt at public relations and not a genuine engagement with those animals who are in such pain,” said Paden.
Excelsior Hog Farm sends their pigs to a number of companies including Johnston’s- which is a Chilliwack-based slaughterhouse. Johnston’s claims to be working alongside suppliers that raise pigs under “a clear standard of care according to best treatment practices.” They then sell their product to realtors across BC including Choices Markets.
When asked if Johnston’s still uses the farm as a supplier, Paden said that to PETA’s knowledge, the large company has not stopped sourcing their pigs from the farm.
“I can tell you that thousands of people have contacted Johnston’s through just PETA’s website asking them to reconsider. That is one way to try and improve things for those animals- to focus attention on the companies selling the animals.”
While the investigation is mostly in the hands of the BC SPCA, Paden does have some insider knowledge. According to Paden, the investigation is moving quickly. As of now, they are focusing on two main paths that include looking at the farm's current living conditions as well as intensely considering the leaked video.
Should the investigation go to trial, Paden believes that the eyewitness, who has remained anonymous, would testify.
At this point in time, it is unclear what charges could be possible in a court of law. “The strongest case for a charge would be the crippled pigs who are laying on their side with growths- those animals are clearly in pain and are suffering. It appears that they have been left in that condition for several days if not longer. This would be an alleged offence under the prevention of cruelty to animals act," said Paden.
This section of the act states that a person responsible for an animal must not cause the animal to be, or continue to be, in distress. This includes an animal being injured, sick, deprived of veterinarian treatment, or abuse and neglect.
Disclaimer: The following video contains very graphic content and could be hard to watch for some viewers.
In the video, you can see a large number of pigs inside a barn. Dead piglets can be seen as well as a larger pig’s corpse. Mother sows can be seen in small, individual cells no bigger than their bodies.
Along with the apparently terrible living conditions, some pigs are seen with abnormal growths on their bodies and some seem like they can barely walk as a result. According to a release sent by PETA to Narcity, these are “volleyball-sized umbilical hernias.”
Narcity has reached out to the BC SPCA and Excelsior Hog Farm for a comment on the investigation.