Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Animal rights protesters jailed for Abbotsford pig farm break-in

"She feels compelled to expose what she describes as atrocities," the judge said of activist Amy Soranno.
Supporters of animal activists charged with breaking and entering at an Abbotsford hog farm in order to exposed alleged animal cruelty showed up at New Westminster Supreme Court on March 28, 2022.

Two animal rights protesters convicted of breaking into an Abbotsford pig farm have been given 30-day jail sentences to be served intermittently.

“Nothing less than a term of imprisonment would be appropriate,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven said. ”In terms of the threat to public order, and maintenance of a just and peaceful, safe society, the offence was grave.”

The judge said Amy Soranno, 29, and Nicholas Schafer, 36, “believe that raising animals for meat is morally wrong, is cruel and unnecessary, and harmful to the environment.”

“They also believe that standard industry practices involved in what they describe as factory farming of animals for meat are cruel and constitute animal abuse,” he said.

Verhoeven said they believe if public awareness of meat production practices was better, animals would not be raised for meat.

To further their political goals, the judge said Soranno, Schafer and others organized and carried out a very large-scale break and enter at Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford on April 28, 2019.

There were initially four activists accused of breaking and entering and mischief; the group said it was for filming alleged “horrific animal cruelty” at the farm. Other charges were dropped.

"Dead pigs were found rotting in their pens,” Soranno said in March. “Live pigs were eating their bodies.”

Video was filmed by the group and released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In March 2022, protesters gathered outside court in New Westminster, holding photos of bloodied pigs. Soranno confirmed the pictures were taken inside the farm.

Verhoeven said in his Oct. 12 decision that it is one thing to express beliefs and opinions within democratic freedoms but breaking the law is not part of that.

“Allowing citizens to break the law as they see fit in order to achieve political objectives is anathema to the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society,” he said.

The judge noted Schafer spoke in court of his concerns about the effects of animal agriculture on the global environment. Soranno told the court she is a political activist who cares deeply and sincerely for the animals.

“She feels compelled to expose what she describes as atrocities,” Verhoeven said.

“If our environmental future is as bleak as many people fear, we will need the rule of law to protect us more than ever,” Verhoeven said.

Excelsior is a family business that has been in operation for approximately 45 years. It's owned by brothers Calvin, Jeff and Raymond Binnendyk.

On the day of the break and enter, Jeff Binnendyk was woken up by an alarm. Family members soon found 50 protesters inside barns and another 150 outside.

“Soranno was their leader and spokesperson,” Verhoeven said.

Police soon arrived but Sorrano demanded media be allowed in with cameras, a tour which eventually took place.

“All the protesters wore T-shirts displaying the name of an animal rights action group, ‘Meat The Victims,’ on the front,” Verhoeven said. “On the back, the T-shirts said, ‘One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.’”

Soranno and Schafer contended they should be granted absolute discharges, or alternatively, conditional discharges.

The Crown suggested fines or imprisonment for a period up to 90 days, which could be served intermittently.

Both were also placed on 12 months’ probation.