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

B.C.’s parliament buildings in Victoria. (Photo: Tom Fletcher)
Surrey gets two cabinet ministers, a parliamentary secretary and government whip

Premier John Horgan’s NDP MLAs were sworn in on Tuesday and the cabinet was revealed Thursday afternoon

Steve ‘Elvis’ Elliott performs for residents of Amica White Rock. Exercise-to-music programs that led to a threat of city fines due to a noise complaint are to resume next week. (Contributed file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Amica White Rock

Peace Portal Seniors Village outbreak declared over

Wickson Pier in Crescent Beach is closed to the public, as work to replace and repair piles continues. (Susan Richards de Wit photo)
PHOTOS: Repairs to Crescent Beach pier complete

$180,000 Wickson Pier project included pile replacement, says City of Surrey parks manager

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Brenda Locke trying to breathe life into Surrey’s defunct Public Safety Committee

Surrey councillor’s motion will be up for debate at a future council meeting

The Festival of Lights; Jingle Bell White Rock; and the Lighted Boat Parade all helped light up the White Rock waterfront on Saturday, Dec. 7. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock Festival of Lights postponed

While event founder remains optimistic, the future of this year’s display is uncertain

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

A new ‘soft reporting’ room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020 which is thought to be the first of its kind in B.C. (Ann Davis Transitional Society/ Facebook)
New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

The online poster for Joel Goddard, who left his Willoughby home Nov. 10, 2020, has been updated by his family and friends who received word that he’s been found.
Langley man missing since Nov. 10 found alive and safe in Abbotsford

Family of the Willoughby area man had been searching for days. Police find him at Abbotsford Airport

Most Read