Skamokawa couple face animal cruelty charges

By Diana Zimmerman 

 https://www.waheagle.com/story/2020/08/06/news/skamokawa-couple-face-animal-cruelty-charges/18132.html

August 6, 2020

Wahkiakum County Engineer Paul Lacy and his wife, Daria were scheduled to be in Wahkiakum District Court on Wednesday morning for a preliminary hearing. The pair have been charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty in the second degree and two counts of transporting or confining a domestic animal in an unsafe manner in a case that brought Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office to their Skamokawa property multiple times over the course of several months in 2019.

A brief overview, according to reports from the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office:

On May 2, 2019, WCSO received a complaint that several horses were loose in Skamokawa. When deputies responded, they found a small pig standing atop a larger decomposing pig carcass in a pig pen that was several inches deep in mud and feces. Nearby in a garage, they found several dogs standing shoulder to shoulder, unable to lay down in a kennel, along with a smaller cage containing more dogs. The dogs were without food and water. Two calves were found without water, and a dozen or more chicks were found without food or water.

On June 8, 2019, the WCSO received a report of possible animal cruelty at a property in Skamokawa.

A deputy found one horse up to its knees in mud and feces. There was an overturned water bucket nearby, and no feed. The horse had swollen knees and had lost patches of hair. Nearby in a horse area, he found four horses with untrimmed hooves and swollen knees. Several of the horses had ribs showing.

Paul Lacy said he had sold about 20 horses and still had about 18 remaining. He said it was not uncommon for horses to not get their hooves trimmed, stating that the Department of Natural Resources does not trim wild horses’ feet.

A witness provided photos of neglect, including a horse with visible ribs standing in a stall in mud up to its knees. A second photo showed a horse with overgrown hooves and visible ribs, and a third photo showed two horses with visible ribs.

On June 15, 2019, deputies and an animal control officer from Cowlitz County visited the Lacy home to inspect the animals. The animal control officer “found them to be in such bad conditions and health, according to her training and experience, that probable cause existed for Animal Cruelty.”

On June 18, 2019, deputies were told about an injured horse. A caller said she had witnessed people loading most of the horses onto a truck, but found a horse with a broken leg in a stall, bleeding out. Deputies responded. They found two horses in a muddy pen, one of which had clearly defined ribs, hips, and shoulder bones. Several pigs were in a large stall, laying in and wandering around in mud, feces, and bones. A horse with a leg injury was found deceased nearby, with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head.

On June 21, 2019, deputies returned to the farm. They found a horse with open wounds on its muzzle and face. Photographs were taken.

Paul Lacy said that the horse that had been euthanized had been buried in his back field, and that he had gotten rid of several dogs. He said that he did not want to get rid of any more, as he and his wife, Daria, planned to breed them to sell. He was advised that they would need a license.

Lacy was advised at that time that if he did not continue to improve the care of his current animals, he would be subject to criminal charges.

On June 24, 2019, Lacy said in a missive that he had reduced the number of horses from 18 to two, the number of dogs by five, the number of chickens by two, and the number of pigs by one, with a plan to auction three and harvest two.

On July 3, 2019, a neighbor reported that some of Lacy’s animals were on their property. The Lacys were given a warning. Deputies noted that the two remaining horses appeared to be in better condition, and that pigs were in a newly constructed pen with food and water available.

On December 15, 2019, a search warrant was served by the sheriff’s office in conjunction with the Cowlitz County Humane Society, which seized four pigs, one sow, five piglets, 15 sheep/goats, four ducks, four ducklings, one turkey, seven dogs, and 32 bird eggs in an incubator. Two dogs were found in a room, with evidence that they had attempted to gnaw and scratch their way out. The floor was smeared with feces, and there was no food or water. In the same room, they found a cage containing a duck and ducklings, the bottom of the cage full of liquid feces, resulting in a fetid odor. The animal control officer was heard to say that day that “this was one of the worst cases she has worked on.”

On December 19, they returned to collect the remaining animals, including 10 turkeys, 11 geese, 61 ducks, 42 chickens, one pack rat, and two pigeons. Every bird had a lice infestation, according to the report.

The idealistic life and violent death of Hamilton animal rights champion Regan Russell

By Jon WellsSpectator Reporter

Sun., Aug. 2, 2020timer12 min. read

On her last evening alive, on the cusp of summer, Regan Russell sat in her backyard under a towering maple worthy of the Garden of Eden.

This was off Locke Street South, around the corner from St. John the Evangelist church, where as a girl she had asked the minister if animals had souls, and why they were sacrificed to God in the Bible.

Russell felt a weariness, and also foreboding, at what lay ahead.

She planned to attend her latest animal rights protest the next morning, June 19, outside Fearmans Pork on Harvester Road in Burlington.

Activists call the weekly demonstrations “vigils,” at which they “bear witness” to pigs hauled in trucks for slaughter, talk to the animals through gaps in the ventilated trailers, and squirt water into their mouths, as drivers pause before entering the facility.

She felt despair about a law passed two days earlier in the Ontario legislature — Bill 156 — that she knew would make it harder, even dangerous, to fulfil her calling to advocate for the pigs’ living conditions and work toward stopping the killing of animals altogether.

In her backyard, Russell, who had recently turned 65, sipped a glass of wine and talked with her spouse Mark Powell.

She had been active in animal rights for 40 years.

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She cared for rabbits, raccoons and wounded squirrels; she protested at Marineland in Niagara and a sled dog breeding operation in Quebec.

She pushed the envelope in her activism and was arrested nearly a dozen times.

“Maybe it’s time for you to pass the torch to the younger generation,” Powell told her. “We can still support them any way we can.”

He was worried for her safety more than usual.

But he also knew there was no stopping her. All he could do was say his piece.

The next afternoon, a woman stood at his door.

“There’s been an accident,” she said, tears in her eyes.

“Slaughterhouse,” Powell said.

“Yes.”

“It’s not good, is it?”

“No.”

One of the trucks carrying pigs had hit and killed Russell.

Her body had been taken to hospital for an autopsy.

The ripple effect of her death was about to be felt far beyond Hamilton.

The 28-year-old driver of the truck has been charged with careless driving causing death by Halton Regional Police under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, and police say “there were no grounds to indicate this was an intentional act.” But questions remain about exactly what happened that morning.

The answer to the deeper question of why Regan Russell took her final breath standing athwart a truck loaded with farm animals, moments from their inevitable end, is both simple and complicated.


The notion that farm animals like pigs are sentient — that they feel pain, at least as acutely as a dog, cat or an infant child — is the philosophical bedrock on which activists stand.

And it’s not mere faith, suggests University of Guelph behavioural biologist Georgia Mason.

“Pigs are considered sentient by the European Union and the National Academy of Science, and every animal welfare research group in the world,” she says.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture recently issued a statement questioning animal sentience, adding: “We simply don’t know if animals are capable of reasoning and cognitive thought.”

But cognition — the ability to understand and acquire knowledge — is distinct from the ability to feel, and it’s a red herring to raise it, Mason says.

“Most recognize that animals are sentient, and it’s not the same as saying they have cognition like humans. It just means they have feelings.”

She says the issue of sentience is more controversial when considering animals such as reptiles, fish, and mammals in a developmental stage — including humans.

“There are questions about at what point a fetus becomes sentient.”

The belief that animals deserve rights in line with humans was popularized 45 years ago in the book “Animal Liberation” by Australian philosopher Peter Singer.

He argued that if one accepts that unequal treatment between humans due to differences in race, gender or intelligence is immoral, then so too is poor treatment of animals, who are physically different from people, but “morally equal.”

It would be “speciesism” to think otherwise, he wrote, and: “We have to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Regan Russell read the book in her early 20s. Its message found a hungry mind and open heart.

And then, in 1977, she read about the seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, that had attracted international attention including a visit from French film star Brigitte Bardot, who condemned “Canadian assassins” clubbing the animals.

Russell had always loved animals but now the spark was lit.

She was living in Winnipeg at the time and made a sign and stood on a street corner.

“I thought, I’ll make a sign and protest and it will all stop,” she said to a journalist in a documentary. “I thought, when everyone knows, how could it possibly continue?”

Russell was idealistic, driven, and just getting started.

She grew up in west Hamilton in the 1960s. Bill and Pat Russell named their first of two children after one of the daughters in Shakespeare’s “King Lear” — a rare name for a girl then.

Bill, a music teacher at Regan’s elementary school, took a political science degree at McMaster University on the side, during the ascendance of feminism and civil rights.

There was always lots of conversation around the dinner table.

Regan read on subjects from Socrates to Gandhi and Roman history, but did not attend college or university after graduating from Westdale high school.

She married at 19, and when her husband’s job took him out west, she followed, and worked modelling for Eaton’s. (She refused to model fur, and was ultimately arrested at a fur protest in a department store in Toronto, along with her father.)

The “Animal Liberation” book is a gateway for many activists; a “moral shock” according to Emily Gaarder, an anthropologist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who wrote a book about the predominance of women in the animal rights movement.

But, she adds, there are other influences, as well.

Russell married twice before meeting Mark Powell in 2001. They knew each other as kids; she was six years older and had taught him Sunday school at church.

She chose to never have children. Powell says she talked of her fear that she would never develop a strong enough connection with a child.

Instead, he says, she directed her nurturing instinct toward animals.

One of Powell’s two sons from his first marriage called Russell, his stepmother, “Snow White,” after watching her talking to animals.

Ideology is another influence on activists. Gaarder says women emboldened to vigorously advance their cause are “political thinkers making political choices.”


That was true for Anita Krajnc, who joined Russell at many animal rights protests.

Krajnc earned several university degrees including a doctorate in political science.

Into her 20s, Krajnc says she was still a meat eater who “salivated at pig roasts.” She converted to veganism after reading “The Sexual Politics of Meat,” but an incident in her early 40s flipped a switch to her calling.

She lived near a slaughterhouse in Toronto and one day, walking her dog, she came across pigs on a truck. Later that year, she helped found Toronto Pig Save.

“I never took action until I saw the pigs,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how scared and sad they were. It looked like they were in a dungeon. A pig looked at me, and I promised him three vigils a week. And we kept that promise.”

In 2015, Krajnc was charged with criminal mischief for giving water to pigs. She was found not guilty, with Regan Russell offering moral support in the courtroom.

The pair campaigned against Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act. Activists believe it is a draconian “ag-gag” measure that will prevent them from exposing inhumane animal treatment.

While the vigils at Fearmans are held just outside the property, at other times, including last summer, Russell and fellow activists entered the grounds to give water to pigs, as workers yelled at them to leave.

In other incidents in Ontario, members of the group “Direct Action Everywhere” have broken into animal breeding barns to retrieve ducks and pigs.

Supporters of the bill say that when activists give water to pigs or trespass on private property, it creates dangerous situations for workers and farmers and is potentially harmful to the food supply.

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Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, told The Spectator the bill will not prohibit demonstrations, “but it will be illegal to interact with livestock. It’s dangerous when they put things in the trucks, whether it is water or something else.”

He says the bill won’t prevent whistle-blowing, and if anyone at a farm or meat processing plant “sees something inappropriate, we want it reported. I have no tolerance for animal cruelty.”

Activists believe that not only are pigs and other animals mistreated prior to killing, but that eating meat is wrong.

Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, says the food system needs to “undergo a massive shift away from eating animals and toward eating plants, to spare billions of animals from unimaginable suffering, to tackle the climate crisis, and because eating animals is a serious risk to public health.”

In an email to The Spectator, she added: “Most people are shocked to learn animal welfare on farms is almost completely unregulated in Canada, and the government doesn’t inspect or monitor the conditions the animals like pigs are kept in … The industry gets to police itself; the figurative fox is guarding the literal henhouse.”

“That is an inaccurate statement,” counters Cameron Newbigging, a spokesperson with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, who says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency enforces regulations for the humane transport and slaughter of animals, and “provincial inspectors go onto farms where irregularities are suspected or complaints are received.”

What constitutes humane treatment is spelled out in Ontario’s Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act passed in 2019, and the federal Health of Animals Act.

One example is regulations for herding animals. Activists lament the use of electric prods to force pigs off trucks; the regulations say prods are permitted on pigs at least three months old, so long as “it is not applied to a sensitive area including the belly and the anal, genital and facial regions of the animal.”

Another regulation is that pigs and other animals cannot be trucked when the shipping time is longer than 12 hours.

Sofina Foods, owner of Fearmans Pork since 2012, said in a statement to The Spectator that its pigs come from farms within a three-hour radius of the plant, “well below the travel time permitted and recommended by regulators.”

For Regan Russell and other activists, the point of opposing Bill 156 was to ensure they remain free to comfort farm animals, and keep a close eye on transport and killing techniques in the industry.

On her Facebook page on June 18, Russell called the bill “evil.”


The protest on June 19 was different than the routine vigils. In addition to bearing witness, it was intended to draw attention to the bill.

That morning, just after 10 a.m., one of the trucks hauling pigs stopped on Harvester Road before it reached the gates of Fearmans.

Activists waited on the sidewalk for their chance to give water to the pigs.

Enforcement under the new law had not yet come into effect; they could still interact with the animals as usual.

Activists say that in the past, drivers have mostly co-operated with the vigils, but occasionally have confronted protesters.

Krajnc, who was not present that day, says she was told by witnesses the truck idled further away from activists than usual, disrupting traffic, “and creating a sense of chaos.”

At the same time, she said, Russell stood apart from the others, in the driveway closer to the gates of the property, and at some point the truck started to move again.

A news release from Pig Save Toronto says Russell “tried to jump from the path of the truck before it plowed into her.” Halton police said in a news release that it was not an “intentional act.”

video documentary about Russell, posted on the Pig Save Facebook page, says she was hit and dragged by the truck and her body mangled underneath.

“One of our activists has been killed,” says a man filming the aftermath on his phone. “Jesus Christ. It finally f—ing happened.”

Within days, animal rights activists held tributes in Russell’s honour, from Argentina to the U.K. and Italy, and in Germany, where protesters hung a banner on a slaughterhouse in Berlin bearing Russell’s likeness.

In Los Angeles, actor Joaquin Phoenix held a sign at a rally that read “Save Pigs 4 Regan,” and said in a statement: “Regan Russell spent the final moments of her life providing comfort to pigs who had never experienced the touch of a kind hand.”

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) announced it had acquired two six-week old pigs from a farm in Iowa, and took the rare step of naming them after an activist: One is named Regan and the other, Russell. They will live in an animal sanctuary in upstate New York.

A march was held in Toronto, where activists called on the province to implement “Regan’s Law,” a bill of rights to protect farm animals.

Powell was among the speakers.

“It is a horrible, life-changing tragedy, for everyone she knew and touched,” he says.

One of her oldest friends, Katherine Wightman, who Russell met through modelling in Winnipeg, says Regan used to talk about being ready to die for her cause.

“She died a martyr,” says Wightman. “She could have worked until she was 100 and never accomplished what this tragic death has.”

Russell’s death has become one of those moral shocks: her face a symbol, her alliterative name a rally cry.


At a pig vigil held three weeks after the incident, flowers from a tribute to her remained hanging on a fence outside Fearmans, having wilted and dried in the heat.

About 18 activists were there, and for some it was their first time.

Nancy Robertson drove 40 minutes from Cambridge where she works as a nurse, wearing a shirt with Russell’s likeness on it.

“(Russell) opened my eyes to doing more for the animals, being in public, having a united front and speaking up for them … Seeing the animals in distress deeply affected me. I’ve never seen one up close before. We would never treat a dog or cat or human that way.”

Jessie Watkinson drove an hour to attend, also inspired by Russell. She cried after offering water to the pigs.

“They were too hot and exhausted to even drink. You connect with one, they look at you, and in that two minutes you show them the compassion. I just wish we could do more.”

At her final protest, Russell had taken her turn spraying water into the mouths of the pigs. And she held a sign that read: “The truth should never be illegal.”

After she was killed, pigs in the truck that hit her were herded onto another, while police officers investigated.

There had been so much commotion in the moment: blood, sirens, and screams from an activist recorded on a phone: “No! No!”

If what Regan Russell believed to her core is true, that pigs feel and have perception beyond our understanding, then it was not just the humans who felt it deeply that morning: that something gentle and beautiful had been lost, on the road to slaughter.

Jon Wells is a Hamilton-based reporter and feature writer for The Spectator. Reach him via email: jwells@thespec.com

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The idealistic life and violent death of Hamilton animal rights champion Regan Russell
https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2020/08/02/the-idealistic-life-and-violent-death-of-hamilton-animal-rights-champion-regan-russell.html?utm_campaign_id=

Breaking news: Parent company of Giant Food, Food Lion and Stop & Shop to eliminate cruel cages for egg-laying hens, mother pigs

July 31, 2020

Breaking news: Parent company of Giant Food, Food Lion and Stop & Shop to eliminate cruel cages for egg-laying hens, mother pigs

The company will also eliminate any pork produced through locking mother pigs in gestation crates from its supply chain. Photo by iStock.com

Ahold Delhaize, the company that owns some of the largest grocery chains in the United States, including Food Lion, Giant Food, the GIANT Company, Hannaford and Stop & Shop, has announced it will only sell eggs from cage-free chickens across all its stores by 2025 or sooner. The company will also eliminate any pork produced through locking mother pigs in gestation crates from its supply chain.

This is incredible news, coming as it does from what is the nation’s fourth-largest grocery retailer, with more than 2,000 locations. The company’s new animal welfare policy, which comes after dialogue with the Humane Society of the United States, eliminates two of the most heinous forms of intensive animal confinement in cages and crates. Cages used to confine egg-laying chickens are so small that the animals cannot express natural behaviors like running, exploring or even extending their wings. Each chicken is given less space than a sheet of paper on which to live. Gestation crates, used to confine mother pigs, are about the same width and length of the animal’s body, leaving them with no room to even turn around.

The announcement from Ahold Delhaize is the latest in a series of similar pledges that the HSUS, Humane Society International, and other animal protection organizations have secured from hundreds of major food companies over the last decade, including Kroger, Nestle and Unilever. With our Food Industry Scorecard, we are keeping track of the progress these companies are making toward achieving their cage-free goals.

In addition, we have helped secure the passage of a dozen state laws to end the cruel cage confinement of farm animals, including in Massachusetts where Ahold Delhaize is based.

While cage-free doesn’t equate to cruelty-free, thanks to the headway we’re making, tens of millions of animals will never know the misery of being locked in tiny cages for their entire lives. Let’s take a moment today to celebrate this incredible win for egg-laying hens and mother pigs even as we continue our work to dismantle the cruelty of cage confinement in the United States and abroad.

Truck Driver Who Ran Over Animal Advocate Escapes Criminal Charges




July 20, 2020

1

A transport truck driver has avoided criminal prosecution in connection with
the death of animal advocate Regan Russell. Regan was violently run over and
killed last month by a truck taking pigs to slaughter outside Fearmans Pork
slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario.

The Halton Police
<https://www.haltonpolice.ca/about/media/view_release.php?releaseID=6575>
announced that they laid one provincial Highway Traffic Act charge against
the 28-year old truck driver-careless driving causing death. The police did
not release the name of the truck driver, or the video of the incident.

Provincial charges are considered far less serious than criminal charges.
The provincial offence of careless driving causing death carries with it a
penalty of $2,000 to $50,000 and up to two years in jail, and no criminal
record. A comparable criminal offence, such as dangerous driving causing
death, would be punishable by large fines and up to 14 years in prison, plus
a criminal record.

Regan Russell was a member of the Animal Save Movement, and was at the
slaughterhouse on the day she was killed to document the condition of pigs
trucked to slaughter in sweltering heat, and to help provide water to them.
She was also there in protest of Bill 156, dangerous so-called “ag gag”
legislation
<https://www.animaljustice.ca/media-releases/ontario-passes-ag-gag-law-to-co
ver-up-animal-abuse-on-farms> passed two days earlier by the provincial
government. Bill 156 aims to cover up animal cruelty in the farming
industry, and interferes with the Charter-protected rights of citizens and
journalists to protest and document animal abuse at farms, slaughterhouses,
and in transport. Animal Justice intends to
<https://www.animaljustice.ca/blog/animal-justice-to-continue-the-fight-agai
nst-bill-156-in-court> challenge the constitutionality of Bill 156 in court.

Although the police did not lay criminal charges against the trucker, they
rarely extend this leniency to animal advocates. Law enforcement authorities
regularly give preferential, slap-on-the-wrist treatment to industries
responsible for animal suffering, while pursuing serious criminal
prosecutions against people who expose and take action to stop animal
cruelty.

For instance, advocates have gathered extensive footage depicting illegal
pig suffering in transport trucks outside Fearmans Pork, including pigs
suffering from heat exhaustion and frostbite, and pigs arriving injured,
dead, or dying. Federal authorities generally refuse to prosecute Fearmans
or truckers for this suffering. Yet in 2015, the Halton Police charged
Animal Save Movement founder Anita Krajnc with criminal mischief for giving
water to thirsty pigs trapped inside a truck outside Fearmans Slaughterhouse
on a sweltering day. She was
<https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/judge-acquits-woman-in-pigs-w
ater-case/article34893404/> acquitted following a much-publicized trial.

Police also regularly lay trumped-up criminal charges against animal
advocates for acts that are not a criminal offence, such as going onto
private property to expose hidden animal suffering on meat and fur farms.
But law enforcement often goes easy on farmers responsible for abuse. Farms
and slaughterhouses caught on hidden camera viciously abusing animals have
never faced a single Criminal Code charge for animal cruelty in Ontario.
Authorities generally don’t bother to prosecute at all, even when there is
clear video evidence. On the rare occasions when charges are laid, they are
always less serious provincial charges.

Regan Russell’s family is also
<https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/regan-russell-1.5653593> calling
for a coroner’s inquest into her brutal death. A coroner’s inquest is
typically used to uncover broader, systemic issues responsible for a death.
In the case of Fearmans Pork, the slaughterhouse had for years refused to
negotiate a safety agreement with the Animal Save Movement to allow for safe
and peaceful protests, and truckers who created safety risks had never been
prosecuted.

Photo credit: Animal Save

https://www.animaljustice.ca/blog/truck-driver-who-ran-over-animal-advocate
escapes-criminal-charges

<https://www.animaljustice.ca/blog/truck-driver-who-ran-over-animal-advocate
-escapes-criminal-charges>

<https://www.animaljustice.ca/blog/truck-driver-who-ran-over-animal-advocate
-escapes-criminal-charges> Animal Justice – Truck Driver Who Ran Over Animal
Advocate Escapes Criminal Charges

A transport truck driver has avoided criminal prosecution in connection with
the death of animal advocate Regan Russell. Regan was violently run over and
killed last month by a truck taking pigs to slaughter outside Fearmans Pork
slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario. The Halton Police announced that they
laid one provincial Highway Traffic Act charge against.

http://www.animaljustice.ca <http://www.animaljustice.ca>

The Birth of a Bill, the Death of an Activist

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/07/18/birth-bill-death-activist

Saturday, July 18, 2020byToronto Star

Regan’s viewpoint, known as intersectionality, is the theory that all forms of oppression, discrimination, domination etc., intersect and influence each other.byFiona Roossien

 3 Comments

Regan Russell, the Toronto Pig Save activist who was killed by a truck carrying pigs to slaughter. (Photo: Agnes Cseke)

Regan Russell, the Toronto Pig Save activist who was killed by a truck carrying pigs to slaughter. (Photo: Agnes Cseke)

On June 19, a protester was killed. Perhaps her death was obscured by the din of headlines that Friday—it was Juneteenth, a day marking the end of slavery.

Protests against systemic racism catalyzed by the death of George Floyd juxtaposed with a Trump rally scheduled on the anniversary and in the location of the worst incident of racial violence in the U.S. Tensions were high.

Her name was Regan Russell and while participating in a scheduled vigil outside of Fearmans slaughterhouse in Burlington, she was run down by a transport truck carrying pigs on their way to slaughter.

In the news covering this event, and in conversations I’ve had with friends and family, it seems the significance of a protester being run down by the very thing she was protesting has been missed. It seems many wonder what she was doing there.

A local news story gives the following account from someone who witnessed the event from a distance: “Then I saw a woman … I assumed the truck driver thought he was clear to go and didn’t see that last protester.”

Ironically, being seen is an important goal of the vigils held by animal rights groups at slaughterhouses—one way to create more visibility in an industry that would prefer to keep its practices hidden. And Regan was unignorable.

But she was also there that day to protest Bill 156—a new ag-gag law that had been passed two days earlier. Criticized as unconstitutional, Bill 156 is handcrafted to stifle damning evidence of the cruelty that is endemic to animal agriculture, with provisions that are distinctly anti-whistle-blower and anti-free-speech.

Like its counterpart, Bill 27 in Alberta, Bill 156 represents the influence of a powerful farming lobby desperately trying to limit exposure of something that can harm their bottom line — visibility into how the animal agriculture industry works. These sections don’t serve to protect the animals or reinforce biosecurity; they serve the sole purpose of controlling information.

The day before she died, Regan wrote on social media: “Bill 156 has passed. Now anytime an animal is suffering on a farm in Ontario, no one, not even an employee, has the right to expose it. This decision is evil. Animal ag is evil. Cancel animal agriculture.”

I’m so sorry that you didn’t get a chance to meet Regan Russell yourself. You would have loved her. I only hope that, in clearing up some of the questions about vigils, I can do her justice.

Regan didn’t look like what I suppose you’d expect a vegan to look like. At 65, Regan still possessed the qualities that decades earlier had made her a model — that is to say, her outer beauty was undeniable. But on the inside — well, that was truly special. She was funny and fast-witted, kind and patient.

She vibrated on a high frequency, if you are familiar with the concept. She was cynical, in a wise way, yet optimistic enough to try to make a difference. For 40 years, she had tried to make a difference. A week prior to her death, she had marched at a Black Lives Matter rally.

You see, Regan’s viewpoint, known as intersectionality, is the theory that all forms of oppression, discrimination, domination etc., intersect and influence each other. One of the signs she frequently brought to vigils read: “If you were in this truck, we’d be here for you too.” And you know what? She would have.

Personally speaking, up until two years ago, I wouldn’t have considered being an activist myself, despite being vegan for several years. It was my then 10-year old son — frustrated because he had been forbidden to talk about animal agriculture at school, who begged me and his dad, also vegan, to take him to a vigil. It became our church. Every Sunday morning we went to bear witness at Fearmans — sometimes with just a handful of people, sometimes in a group of 20 or more. Regan was almost always there too.

This leads me to an important point about Regan’s experience — as an activist, and specifically attending vigils at Fearmans, which she had done for years. This translates to hundreds of vigils, stopping thousands of transport trucks, bearing witness to the final moments of hundreds of thousands of pigs.

Regan understood the risks — after all, rogue aggressive drivers had been encountered in the past. In fact, this issue was the impetus for a petition created by Toronto Pig Save on change.org urging Michael Latifi, the CEO of Fearmans/Sofina Foods Inc., to create​ ​a safety agreement allowing activists to safely protest. Although the request has been ignored to date, other efforts had been made by both Toronto Pig Save and another activist group, New Wave Activism, to liaise with police, work with security and establish rapport with drivers.

Safety protocol is reviewed regularly with the group. Every vigil is timed. Roles are assigned to protestors to improve safety. Regan had one of those roles that day — standing at the entrance, just on the other side of the pedestrian sidewalk, with her now iconic bright neon sign that read ALL ANIMALS NEED PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.

Although, thanks to the newly passed Bill 156, the ability to legally protect animals would soon be more difficult. It is a bill that exemplifies prioritization of commerce over our rights as Canadians and specifically seeks to punish animal activists. This reality was certainly top-of-mind for Regan and the other activists there that day — as much as it was likely on the radar of those who profit from animal agriculture.

As you can imagine, losing Regan has been a devastating loss to the activism community, to Toronto Pig Save and New Wave Activism and to the many individuals who Regan touched with her beauty, wisdom and compassion. Personally, there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t cried a tear or two hundred — for the loss of a friend, and the loss of innocence, as I see for the first time just how unforgiving the machine we stand against can be.

And in the wake of Regan’s death, we are emboldened to articulate our demands in her name:

Justice for Regan Russell; the creation of a universal safety protocol for all future vigils; the repeal of Bill 156; greater visibility into farms where animals are kept and slaughterhouses via 24/7 video; monitoring that can be accessed by the public; the conversion of Fearmans Pork into an exclusively plant-based facility focused on the manufacture of plant protein; and the defunding of animal agriculture.

On the captivity, Regan said: “They say we’re breaking the law by storming? How do you think women got the right (to vote)? How do you think slavery was abolished? People stood up and broke the laws! Because they’re stupid laws.”

Let’s stand up to this stupid law.

Fiona Roossien wrote this article on behalf of Toronto Pig Save.

People just covered themselves in fake blood in the middle of a downtown Toronto street

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Hundreds of animal rights advocates marched through the streets of Toronto this afternoon to demand justice for Regan Russell, the activist who was killed by a pig transport truck while protesting at Fearman’s slaughterhouse in Burlington. 

Russell was dragged by the truck for more than 15 metres during the incident, and charges against the driver have not yet been pressed as Halton Police are still investigating. 

On Friday, protestors took to the streets to demand that Russell’s memory be honoured and that justice be served. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1284158186807689216&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.blogto.com%2Fcity%2F2020%2F07%2Ffake-blood-toronto-street%2F&siteScreenName=blogTO&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9066bb2%3A1593540614199&width=550px

Activists marched from CBC Headquarters to Queen’s Park, where speakers including Russell’s husband, Toronto Pig Save’s lawyer, activists and friends of Russell passionately addressed the crowd. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1284196253342085121&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.blogto.com%2Fcity%2F2020%2F07%2Ffake-blood-toronto-street%2F&siteScreenName=blogTO&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9066bb2%3A1593540614199&width=550px

At one point, while walking down Queen Street West, activists laid down in the middle of sidewalk and street and covered themselves in fake blood in order to make a statement about Russell’s tragic death. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-2&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1284217385109651456&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.blogto.com%2Fcity%2F2020%2F07%2Ffake-blood-toronto-street%2F&siteScreenName=blogTO&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9066bb2%3A1593540614199&width=550px

The entire protest was livestreamed from the Animal Save Movement’s Facebook page, and it shows masked protestors holding signs saying things like “We are Regan Russell,” and “Go vegan 4 Regan.”https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-3&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1284189643794251777&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.blogto.com%2Fcity%2F2020%2F07%2Ffake-blood-toronto-street%2F&siteScreenName=blogTO&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9066bb2%3A1593540614199&width=550px

In addition to honouring Russell, activists also demanded that Bill 156 be repealed and replaced.

The new legislation was passed by the Ontario government earlier this year and makes it much easier for farms to hide the conditions in which animals are kept from the public.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-4&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1284220436495110144&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.blogto.com%2Fcity%2F2020%2F07%2Ffake-blood-toronto-street%2F&siteScreenName=blogTO&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9066bb2%3A1593540614199&width=550px

“The Bill is intended to protect farm animals, the food supply, farmers and others from risks that are created when trespassers enter places where farm animals are kept or when persons engage in unauthorized interactions with farm animals,” reads theexplanatory note at the beginning of the bill.

The law states that activists, media and any other trespassers could receive fines of up to $25,000 for entering a farm property for a number of reasons, including to document the animals’ living conditions or to simply interact with them.

“Activists are demanding that Bill 156, the ag-gag law passed by the Ontario legislature just two days before Regan was run over, be converted into Regan’s law, which protects farmed animals from abuse as well as the whistleblowers who expose the suffering of animals,” reads a statement from protestors. 

“Doug Ford and the members of the Ontario legislature need to know what Regan Russell stood for and how Bill 156 has failed her!!!”Lead photo by 

Toronto Pig Save

Ventilation Shutdown Used to “Depopulate” Farm Animals During Pandemic Causes Severe Suffering

Photo by Direct Action Everywhere

Photo by Direct Action EverywhereJuly 1, 2020

https://awionline.org/press-releases/ventilation-shutdown-used-depopulate-farm-animals-during-pandemic-causes-severe

Washington, DC—COVID-19 has shut down, at least temporarily, dozens of pig, chicken, and turkey slaughter plants in the United States, leaving millions of farm animals with nowhere to go. Some producers have arranged to keep animals on the farm until plants reopen, while others have chosen to kill healthy animals and bury or compost their bodies.

The term euthanasia, which literally means “a good death,” has been inappropriately used to characterize the killing by inhumane methods of healthy farm animals due to slaughter and processing capacity problems. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) uses the term “depopulation” to describe the rapid destruction of a population of animals in response to urgent circumstances. One method that has been used to kill large numbers of farm animals is “ventilation shutdown,” which involves turning off the airflow in a barn and ratcheting up the heat to as high as 120 degrees, leaving trapped birds and pigs to die from a combination of heat stress and suffocation.

Dena Jones, director of the farm animal program at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), issued the following statement regarding the use of ventilation shutdown to kill farm animals due to limited slaughter capacity during the pandemic:

The ventilation shutdown process can take hours and likely results in severe animal suffering. Intentionally inflicting death in a manner that causes elevated and prolonged distress is unacceptable and does not qualify as “euthanasia.” It is particularly insupportable for the AVMA — a professional scientific body representing veterinarians sworn to protect animals — to allow its guidelines to be used in such an inappropriate manner.

When the AVMA proposed allowing the use of ventilation shutdown to kill animals “in constrained circumstances,” AWI warned that the AVMA guidelines might not prevent producers from using this extreme method in situations that instead call for euthanasia. In fact, that is exactly what is happening now; healthy animals posing no public health risk are being killed by a grossly inhumane method to aid the meatpacking industry.

Ventilation shutdown was last used in 2015 in response to an outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu, which killed nearly 50 million chickens and turkeys in the United States. During the current pandemic, however, animals are not suffering from disease, nor are they at risk of transmitting disease to other animals or to humans. Instead, they are being destroyed because meat companies have failed to properly protect their slaughterhouse workers.

The modern animal agriculture industry in the United States routinely puts profits over the well-being of both animals and workers. It runs slaughter lines as fast as possible, provides animals the lowest level of care required, and offers minimal health and safety protections to its workers. There is no margin for error in this intensive, high-production system. As a result, the wave of plant closures has left millions of animals in limbo. Nevertheless, the current situation does not justify subjecting any animal to a cruel death.

###Media Contact

Margie Fishman, (202) 446-2128, margie@awionline.org

Ontario Passes Controversial New Ag-Gag Law, But Animal Rights Activists Aren’t Backing Down

Kayo Brewster

Reading Time: 3 minutes  

On June 17, 2020, the Ontario government passed Bill 156, an ag-gag law that criminalizes whistleblowing on factory farms.

Under this law, it is now illegal for anyone to photograph animals in transport or to approach trucks to offer water to animals that have legally been transported without food, water, or rest for up to 36 hours in sweltering conditions. The new legislation also targets journalists, whistleblowers, and investigators, preventing them from exposing animal cruelty on farms and in slaughterhouses. 

Without the cruelty unveiled by undercover investigators and whistleblowers, animals will continue to live in squalid conditions and be subjected to inhumane treatment without repercussions for the farm owners or workers committing these acts.

Amy Soranno is one of the many investigators fighting back, with the support of the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and thousands of activists who believe the new law poses a serious threat to free speech.

In a recent video, Soranno discusses her life as an animal rights activist, including organizing Canada’s first mass farm occupation Meat The Victims, and investigating some of the country’s largest animal farming operations.

Following the video’s release, we chatted with Soranno about Ontario’s new ag-gag law and what the further criminalization of on-farm activism in Canada means for the rest of the animal protection movement.

“The animal agriculture industry wants to scare animal activists away from escalating their tactics or taking part in direct action because they recognize that these actions are highly effective,” Soranno states. “My hope is that Bill 156 (and other ag-gag laws) will have the opposite effect, lighting a fire within activists to fight even harder, challenging Bill 156 in court, and fighting for animals to be protected under the law.”
The Importance of Whistleblowers and Undercover Investigators
The meat and dairy industries’ unsavory practices are upsetting and unprofitable, so companies do what they can to “humane wash” their marketing strategies—giving the illusion that their products come from happy, well-treated animals. Undercover investigators, activists, and whistleblowers continue to risk their mental and physical health to expose the truth.  In June of 2019, Animal Outlook—formerly Compassion Over Killing—and the Public Justice Food Project brought suit on behalf of a whistleblower following a hidden-camera investigation inside the Superior Farms lamb slaughterhouse conducted in Dixon, California from May to November 2016. In a first for the animal agriculture industry, Superior Farms entered a consent decree with the USDA to reform its killing methods and other inhumane and otherwise misleading practices that Animal Outlook’s investigation brought into question.
 In July of 2019, Animal Recovery Mission’s (ARM) investigation at Natural Prairie Dairy stands as the first-ever cruelty investigation into an organic dairy farm in the United States, and the third installment of the largest dairy investigation of all time into Fairlife and Select Milk Producers, Inc. The first two investigations released by ARM were Operation Fair Oaks Farms and Operation Fairlife. After the investigations gained media attention, Fairlife milk and Natural Prairie Dairy products were pulled from grocery store shelves across the country.
 In October of 2019, Animal Outlook released the first-ever undercover footage of a salmon aquaculture farm—Cooke Aquaculture. The farm is a massive salmon hatchery whose subsidiary, True North, has partnered on a new seafood brand with Martha Stewart. The footage reveals heinous scenes of animal abuse, giving consumers a first look into the highly secretive salmon farming industry. Animal Outlook submitted their evidence to authorities, and after being contacted about the investigation, Cory Baker, COO of Marquee Brands—which owns the Martha Stewart True North Line—replied promptly. Booker stated that the company will be opening its own investigation immediately and is committed to “sustainability and of course ensuring cruelty free practices.”
Similar ag-gag laws are being introduced and implemented into provinces across Canada, including Alberta and British Columbia.

“These bills would increase penalties for people who attempt to rescue animals from harm and would implement higher charges for those who trespass onto farm properties, like hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines or years in jail…This is for entering a business and taking out your phone to record. These new Bills are one of the biggest threats to Canadian farmed animals right now. Not only are the animals being silenced, but now so are their advocates.”

Read the full story here
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Covering COVID-19
With the worst global pandemic we’ve seen in over a century, it’s more important than ever to make sure the truth is reported in its entirety, not just what’s convenient.

Help us share the facts during these uncertain times and make sure the world knows our species cannot survive if we continue our exploitation of the planet and nonhuman animals.

Flu virus with ‘pandemic potential’ found in China

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53218704

By Michelle RobertsHealth editor, BBC News online

  • 1 hour ago

Related Topics

pig being transported
Image captionThe new flu strain is similar to the swine flu that spread globally in 2009

A new strain of flu that has the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in China by scientists.

It emerged recently and is carried by pigs, but can infect humans, they say.

The researchers are concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak.

While it is not an immediate problem, they say, it has “all the hallmarks” of being highly adapted to infect humans and needs close monitoring.

As it’s new, people could have little or no immunity to the virus.

Pandemic threat

A bad new strain of influenza is among the top disease threats that experts are watching for, even as the world attempts to bring to an end the current coronavirus pandemic.

The last pandemic flu the world encountered – the swine flu outbreak of 2009 that began in Mexico – was less deadly than initially feared, largely because many older people had some immunity to it, probably because of its similarity to other flu viruses that had circulated years before.

That virus, called A/H1N1pdm09, is now covered by the annual flu vaccine to make sure people are protected.

The new flu strain that has been identified in China is similar to 2009 swine flu, but with some new changes.

Media captionSearching for viruses in Thai bats – watch scientists collect samples from the animals in order to look for clues about coronaviruses

So far, it hasn’t posed a big threat, but Prof Kin-Chow Chang and colleagues who have been studying it, say it is one to keep an eye on.

The virus, which the researchers call G4 EA H1N1, can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways.

They found evidence of recent infection starting in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China.

Current flu vaccines do not appear to protect against it, although they could be adapted to do so if needed.

Prof Kin-Chow Chang, who works at Nottingham University in the UK, told the BBC: “Right now we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses.”

While this new virus is not an immediate problem, he says: “We should not ignore it”.

The scientists write in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that measures to control the virus in pigs and closely monitor working populations should be swiftly implemented.

Prof James Wood, Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said the work “comes as a salutary reminder” that we are constantly at risk of new emergence of pathogens, and that farmed animals, with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife, may act as the source for important pandemic viruses.

Media captionHow swine fever devastated China’s pigs in 2019

Joaquin Phoenix Attends Vigil for Animal Rights Activist After She Died Outside a Slaughterhouse

Joaquin Phoenix honored Regan Russell, an animal rights activist who was killed outside of a slaughterhouse in Toronto, CanadaBy Alexia Fernandez June 26, 2020 10:02 PMhttps://7df0782deefdfbba75c64735113f71eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlhttps://7df0782deefdfbba75c64735113f71eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlADVERTISEMENTFBTweetMore

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix and Michelle Cho; (inset) Regan Russell BOBBY SUD

Joaquin Phoenix paid tribute to an animal rights activist after she died giving pigs water outside of a Canadian slaughterhouse.

The Oscar-winning actor, 45, joined more than 100 animal rights activists for a vigil to commemorate Regan Russell outside of the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Vernon, California, on Thursday night.

Phoenix, who has been an outspoken proponent for animal rights and veganism, stood outside of the slaughterhouse in a black hoodie reading “LA Animal Save,” a mask, and a sign that read, “#SavePigs4Regan.”

Standing beside him was his friend, Michelle Cho, with a sign that read, “Rest in power Regan.”

RELATED: Joaquin Phoenix Comforted Pigs at L.A. Slaughterhouse After SAG Award Win: ‘I Have to Be Here’

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Phoenix said, “Regan Russell spent the final moments of her life providing comfort to pigs who had never experienced the touch of a kind hand.”

“While her tragic death has brought upon deep sorrow in the Animal Save community, we will honor her memory by vigorously confronting the cruelties she fought so hard to prevent by marching with Black Lives, protecting Indigenous rights, fighting for LGBTQ equality, and living a compassionate vegan life,” he said.

Joaquin Phoenix

Regan Russell died on June 19 GOFUNDME

“The Ontario government can attempt to silence us with the passage of its Ag-Gag bill -Bill 156 – but we will never go away and we will never back down,” he said. “My heart goes out to the Toronto Animal Save community and to Regan’s lifelong partner, Mark Powell.”

Part of Russell’s fight was to repeal a new bill passed in Ontario, Bill 156, that will soon make it illegal for anyone to be on private property such as farms where animals intended for slaughter are usually held.

Russell died on the morning of June 19 outside of the Fearman’s Pork Inc. when she was hit by a transport truck as she was attempting to give water to pigs headed to slaughter.

A spokesperson for the Halton Regional Police Service did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, although an investigation into her death is being conducted, a spokesperson told CBC.

Russell’s partner, Powell, told The Hamilton Spectator shortly after her death he didn’t know how she ended up underneath the transport truck, but that he was willing to continue her legacy of fighting for animal welfare.

RELATED: Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix March with Dead Animals After Sparking Engagement Rumors

“She died fighting for what she believed in,” Powell said. “Whatever it cost, she would pay. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes, it’s this.”

On Friday, Powell told the CBC he’d fight Bill 156 for “the rest of my life.”

“My life ended on Friday [June 19], so for as long as I’m left here, we have to pick up the torch and we have to fight things like Bill 156,” he said.

GoFundMe for Russell has been created by her family to provide funds for her funeral and legal expenses.