October 5th 2021, marks the 5 year anniversary of the Fearmans rollover when a transport truck crashed just prior to arriving at the gates of Fearmans Slaughterhouse.
As activists with Toronto Pig Save we attend vigils regularly outside Fearmans slaughterhouse. We hold signs to inform the public about what happens inside, and wait for the trucks so we can bear witness to some of the 10,000 pigs who arrive daily to be slaughtered.
Vigils are always traumatic. There is no difference that matters between a dog or a pig or a human. If you can imagine how you might feel bearing witness to a truck full of dogs arriving at a slaughterhouse, often dehydrated, always terrified, you might have an understanding of how difficult activists find vigils.
As soon as the news broke that morning that a truck had overturned, Toronto Pig Save immediately organized an emergency vigil and activists rushed to the scene. Nothing could have prepared any activist for what we encountered. A truck full of 3-4 month old pigs arriving to be murdered. Relentless, prolonged, agonizing screams filled the air. A few dozen pigs had been killed instantly upon impact, many more were injured. It was complete carnage. But instead of finding people helping the pigs, we found several police officers and over a dozen Fearmans’ employees using cardboard panels in an attempt to shield the overturned truck from activists who were trying to document the scene.
Screams still filled the air, blood covered the sidewalk. Firefighters were cutting through metal attempting to free the pigs, but not to take them to an animal hospital. Fearmans had cut a hole through the fence and were planning to, and eventually did, walk surviving pigs across the parking lot to the gas chamber.
The ones that were trapped inside the truck were beaten by workers in order to move them by foot towards the kill floor.
Several animals broke out and experienced freedom for a brief moment, felt grass under their feet and sunshine on their backs, before being corralled into the slaughterhouse and executed by the slaughterhouse.
The tension was palpable, the scene chaotic. Protestors were remonstrating with police, dismayed at their handling of the situation; they were clearly helping Fearmans cover up the truth. They were prohibiting protesters from approaching the truck by putting up a yellow caution tape barrier, but allowing and enabling Fearmans employees past the barrier so they could hold up cardboard to shield the truth. Passers by were shouting ‘bacon’ from their cars. One member of the Press commented that the pigs would still make nice hot dogs. All the while the pigs screamed.
Toronto Pig Save activists arrived on the scene and together with a number of other protesters crossed the caution tape to document the atrocity. Police ordered everyone back. Anita, Toronto Pig Save co-founder, attempted to cross the line once more and was arrested.
More police arrived. They were becoming more and more frantic and lacking in diplomacy, roughly pushing people and shouting with reddened angry faces. Compassion, it would seem, is offensive.
Meanwhile there were three pigs by the entrance, they had managed to free themselves from the toppled truck prior to ‘help’ arriving. One of the pigs, the most distant, was basking and rooting in the mud close to the gas chamber, probably for the first time in her life. The other two were right up alongside the fence at the entrance. Both appeared injured, neither could walk. Neither were fit for ‘processing’. Both could be saved. Optimism flooded the veins of the activists despite the dichotomy of saving one or two pigs whilst 10,000 others were killed.
After a time the distant pig who was basking was ushered up and led to the gas chamber. She allowed herself to be led away, trusting the human who was about to betray her. Steve Jenkins, from Happily Ever Esther sanctuary had arrived on the scene and officially offered sanctuary to the two injured pigs. We were hopeful, very hopeful. He had transportation for the animals and a comfortable home waiting. There was no logical reason why these pigs couldn’t be saved.
Time passed, hour after hour. Truck after truck of pigs entered Fearmans while we waited. One of the pigs managed to get up and walk over to the other. He nuzzled her, trying to help. This was bitter sweet. The fact the pig was up and walking meant he could be ‘processed’. Sure enough this pig was soon led away. The one remaining pig, who protestors later named Bonnie, was far too injured to walk. She needed urgent medical attention. Activists were ready, willing and able to assist, to take her to the best veterinary care available.
Despite numerous calls and requests to Fearmans and the CFIA, after over four hours had passed, a Fearmans employee shot Bonnie in the head in front of all the activists standing by. Other employees attempted to shield the execution with cardboard. Activists watched in dismayed disbelief.
Having endured a terrifying crash, having being trapped in a truck or lying injured in the grass for hours, one might have expected or assumed these pigs would have been shown mercy. But no mercy was shown that day, not by Fearmans and not by the police who ensured the truth was curtailed. Not even when the pigs could not be ‘processed’ and sanctuary was on offer. Not even then.
The emergency vigil was extended and transformed into a candlelight vigil for the pigs. Many more people attended the site that evening including Regan Russell. Three and a half years later Regan was struck and killed in that very same location by a truck carrying pigs as it entered Fearmans.
If you are appalled at this injustice, if you have a heart full of sorrow and empathy for these pigs, and for Regan who was killed fighting for them, know that if you are not vegan, then you are paying for this to continue. Without the demand, 10,000 pigs per day at Fearmans alone and billions of other animals around the world would not be killed every year. Is this really something you want to support?
Four things you can do to help:
- The most impactful action you can take to save animals is to adopt a vegan diet. If you aren't already vegan, don't worry, it's not too late. A great way to get started is through Challenge 22 or Veganuary.
- Sign the Plant Based Treaty. Your endorsement will help put pressure on national governments to negotiate an international Plant Based Treaty as a companion to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement. The treaty calls for system changes such as no new deforestation for animal agriculture, ending subsidies for animal agriculture and calling on industries and governments to switch to plant-based solutions, and reforesting the Earth.
- Join or start an Animal Save Movement chapter in your area to take positive action to end all forms of animal exploitation.
- Share this blog article with your friends, family, coworkers and across your social media channels.