Regan Russell, a member of Toronto Pig Save. (Peta screenshot)

Animal rights activist killed while protesting pigs en route to Ontario slaughterhouse

Dozens of activists gathered at the plant Friday to mourn Regan Russell, a member of Toronto Pig Save

A longtime animal rights activist was fatally struck by a truck on Friday while she was protesting outside a slaughterhouse west of Toronto, her friends said.

Regan Russell, a member of Toronto Pig Save, died after being hit by a transport truck full of pigs on its way to Fearman’s Pork, a processing plant in Burlington, Ont., said Anita Krajnc, the group’s co-founder.

“She was in front of the truck when it ran over her,” said Krajnc, who did not witness the incident but had heard from other activists who were there at the time.

The death of the 65-year-old activist comes just two days after the province passed controversial legislation that hiked fines for trespassing on farms and food-processing facilities and made it illegal to obstruct trucks carrying farm animals.

Dozens of activists gathered at the plant Friday to mourn their friend.

“She was a sophisticated, well-educated woman who was very strong and always determined to do the right thing,” Krajnc said.

Russell had often joined Toronto Pig Save as they gave water to pigs on transport trucks at the entrance of the plant, she said, and Friday was no different.

“She supported Black Lives Matter, Indigenous rights and she was an intersectional vegan who understood the importance of equality in terms of racial justice and in terms of animal equality,” Krajnc said.

A spokeswoman for Sofina Foods, owner of Fearman’s Pork, said the company is fully cooperating with a police investigation into the death.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individual and her family. This is a tragedy and we extend our sincere condolences to them,” Daniele Dufour said in a statement.

“We also recognize the impact that this event had on our employees and have been providing support to them in these very difficult times.”

Camille Labchuk, the executive director of Animal Justice, said Russell was a lifelong animal advocate.

“This is so sad,” Labchuk said through tears. ”She was a beautiful human who didn’t deserve this.”

A large number of activists have shown up at the scene, where the group plans to hold an all-night vigil in honour of Russell and the pigs she loved, Krajnc said.

“We have asked management to get some of these pigs in the truck to a sanctuary in her name,” she said.

Halton police said they received a call around 10:20 a.m. about a pedestrian who had been struck by a transport truck. They said the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

The group has long protested the slaughter of pigs at Fearman’s Pork and were there Friday to protest the recent passage of a law activists have dubbed the ”ag gag” bill.

Toronto Pig Save regularly holds “vigils” outside the facility, and on hot days activists will feed water to the pigs as they’re taken to slaughter.

Temperatures reached 30C Friday and much of southwestern Ontario was under a heat warning by Environment Canada.

“We have had many close calls here,” Krajnc said. “We have asked for trucks to stop for two minutes so we can bear witness, say goodbye to the pigs and give them water.”

The group drew international headlines in 2015 when Krajnc was arrested while giving water to the pigs on a hot day at the same spot.

She was later found not guilty of criminal mischief when the case went to trial.

Liam Casey and Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

animal welfare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Greens, Liberals, NDP field Fraser-Nicola candidates ahead of October election

Incumbent Jackie Tegart has two opposing candidates after snap election called Monday

Work has started on 20 units of seniors’ housing in Clinton

Much-delayed project has been in the works for almost a decade

Cache Creek firefighters plan bigger, better Halloween fireworks

‘With so much uncertainty in the world it’s nice to know that one community event is staying intact’

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Most Read