Activists charged in last year‚Äôs invasion of the Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford have appeared in court.
A total of 21 counts were read against four individuals at the provincial courthouse in Abbotsford on September 3 in relation to the incident. Amy Soranno, Jeff Rigear, Roy Sasano and Nicholas Schafer have each been charged with break and enter and mischief.
Abbotsford police told industry groups earlier this year that they were urging Crown prosecutors to lay charges in the matter, which followed an earlier burglary in which surveillance cameras were installed.
‚ÄúWe submitted a very comprehensive report, and we are hoping at the end of the day that the Crown counsel sees it the way we do and lays the charges that we have recommended,‚ÄĚ Abbotsford Police Department Sergeant Casey Vinet said in February. ‚Äú[If] there‚Äôs no meaningful consequences, we just embolden these folks and things just get worse.‚ÄĚ
However, supporters of the accused staged a rally outside the courthouse the day of the hearing, and said things are already worse for the animals. While the BC SPCA found insufficient evidence to lay charges, the activists maintain the video footage provided and distributed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was sufficient.
Moreover, they claim that the individual who installed the cameras was turned in.
‚ÄúThese charges are, in part, due to the BC SPCA failing the animals by turning in a whistleblower to the police,‚ÄĚ Soranno, wrote in a Facebook post after the first appearance in the court. ‚ÄúThe system in place to protect animals is failing them in the worst possible way.‚ÄĚ
To further their point, the activists launched a petition in August urging BC SPCA recommend criminal animal cruelty charges against Excelsior Hog Farm. A total of 32,000 people have signed the petition.
The next court appearance for the four activists is scheduled for November 2.