Protestors gathered at the Abbotsford BC SPCA branch on Sept. 3 following the court appearance of the four people accused related to activities at Excelsior Hog Farm in 2019. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Protestors gathered at the Abbotsford BC SPCA branch on Sept. 3 following the court appearance of the four people accused related to activities at Excelsior Hog Farm in 2019. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

SPCA responds to claims from accused in Excelsior Hog Farm case

Marcie Moriarty of the BC SPCA states that protestors should not be blaming her organization

The BC SPCA has fired back at some of the accusations made by the protestors and those accused in the Excelsior Hog Farm case.

Thursday morning (Sept. 3) was the first appearance for Amy Sorrano, Jeff Luke Rigear, Roy Makoto Sasano and Nicholas George Schafer. The group now face a total of 21 charges, including several counts of break-and-enter and mischief related to both the April 28, 2019 protest and other incidents prior to the protest.

RELATED: Four Abbotsford pig-farm activists now facing 21 charges after first court appearance

The BC SPCA investigated the original claims of animal abuse submitted by Soranno and her group, but in May 2019 they said there was insufficient evidence to support the recommendation of charges to Crown counsel. The case was reopened in August 2019, but the same decision was made to not pursue charges against Excelsior.

A press release stated that protestors believe the BC SPCA has not held Excelsior Hog Farm accountable for their proven criminal animal cruelty and the charges against the activists are partially due to the SPCA turning in whistleblowers, despite assurances of anonymity and with no warrant from the police.

RELATED: Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

The group also believes that the BC SPCA is working with the police and the factory farms, rather than on behalf of the animals.

Marcie Moriarty, the chief prevention and enforcement officer for the SPCA, stated that the legality of the video that showcased the alleged abuse at Excelsior Hog Farm made it difficult to proceed with charges.

“The BC SPCA did open an investigation into the Excelsior Hog Farm as soon as it received a complaint about potential abuse on the property,” she told The News. “The reason the case was not able to move forward was not because of lack of will or effort on the part of SPCA investigators, but because the sole evidence in the case was a video that was obtained illegally. Crown Counsel advised the BC SPCA on two separate occasions during the investigation that charges could not proceed since the illegal video – the sole evidence – would not be admissible in court.”

RELATED: BC SPCA says no charges against Abbotsford hog farm

Moriarty also said protestors should instead be focusing more on pork producers if they want to make a change in the industry.

“They’re choosing the wrong organization to be focusing their questions to,” she said. “It’s interesting to not have these questions directed to pork producers.”

She pointed to the cattle abuse case from Chilliwack Cattle Sales that led to charges in 2017 as an example of video being obtained legally and successfully.

RELATED: Jail time for Chilliwack men who violently abused dairy cows

“It’s something where we have to make a strategic decision on – should we be putting countless hours and resources of donor dollars towards a file that is not going to be accepted successful,” she said. “Or would we rather focus our attentions on advocacy efforts that would see changes.”

Moriarty said she and everyone in her group were appalled by what was displayed in the video, but that the actions used by the protestors in the Excelsior Hog Farm case work against those who want government changes to protect animals.

“We absolutely do not condone what was in that video but our enforcement role and our advocacy roles are separate,” she said. “They [protestors] are confusing the matter and unfortunately that is what takes away time and effort from the work we do – which they may not see as good enough but I prefer to work where we can collaborate on efforts with the police and government agencies to promote animal welfare.”

She added that she was disappointed to see protestors gather at the Abbotsford SPCA branch on Sept. 3.

“It breaks my heart to see individuals who are working hard and simply caring for animals having to be met at work and be told they’re terrible people who are letting animals down,” she said. “It makes me sad that the young people working for us were exposed to that. We are all trying to speak for animals, but we may do it in a different way than them. It may be slower than some people like but I’d argue that there are ways to work together to see progressive changes that benefit animals and don’t bring innocent people like shelter workers into a public display.”

The next court appearance for the four accused is scheduled for Nov. 2.

abbotsfordBCSPCA

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

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former Smithereen frustrated with COVID-deniers following horrific bout with the disease

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

Pellet plants deal with a lot of combustible materials. (File photo)
“Fire-related event” at Houston pellet plant injures three, shuts down operations

Rumours of an associated explosion cannot be confirmed at this time

The Smithers District Chamber of Commerce coveted Alpine Man Statue for winners of the 2020 Community and Business Awards Nov 25. (contributed photo)
Smithers Feed Store named Business of the Year

Chamber of Commerce Community and Business Awards handed out in virtual ceremony via Zoom

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read