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Pigs packed in transport truck spark federal investigation

Footage of live pigs crammed together in a transport truck has the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigating after a Kamloops animal-rights group filed a complaint.
animal cruelty-pig transport
A local animal rights activist captured footage of pigs crowded in the back of a transport truck that passed through town last week, and has since filed a complaint with the CFIA.

Footage of live pigs crammed together in a transport truck has the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigating after a Kamloops animal-rights group filed a complaint.

Kira Blaise, founder of Kamloops Animal Rights Movement and Advocacy (KARMA), captured the video on a whim last week.

“Potentially, from the investigation, charges may not be laid because it may fall within industry standards — and from that alone I think the biggest thing people can take away is that we need to tighten our legislation to protect animals,” Blaise told KTW.

The Kamloops native said she and her partner were on their way to try a new veggie burger at A&W when they noticed a transport truck and decided to follow it, wondering if there were slaughterhouses in Kamloops.

When the driver stopped at a southbound weigh station on Highway 5, Blaise got out of the car and asked the truck driver if she could have a few minutes with the animals, to which he agreed.

Blaise said she was shocked at what she saw. It was the first time she had approached a transport truck and she decided to shoot some footage,

“I knew just from looking at them and interacting with the pigs that they were dehydrated,” Blaise said. “They were exhausted. Many were unresponsive and very crowded.”

In the video, multiple pigs can be seen packed in close quarters in the back of the truck. Some are lying on top of one other. According to Environment Canada, the high temperature on that day, July 11, was 29.6 C.

After viewing the video, Blaise and her partner felt what they witnessed constituted animal cruelty as they felt too many pigs were crowded together in the truck.

The pair decided to seek the advice of Anna Pippus, a lawyer for the animal law non-profit agency Animal Justice, who told them to file a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which they did.

The pair also called the Alberta SPCA as the truck had Alberta licence plates. Both the Alberta and BC SPCAs are now investigating, Blaise said.

She described the current legislation regarding crowding of animals in transport as weak, arguing it is ambiguous on what defines suffering for animals.

She noted Canadian laws also allow pigs to be transported for up to 36 hours without food or water, whereas the European Union has a maximum of eight hours.

Blaise said a CFIA representative based out of Vernon contacted her a day after she took her footage and told her the truck had arrived at a facility in Langley, but did not disclose the name of the company.

A CFIA spokesperson told KTW the federal agency is gathering information, but does not have any other information to share at this point.

"We follow up on all complaints, but sometimes it will be the province who will be responsible, other times it will be CFIA," the spokesperson said.

Blaise said a representative from the BC SPCA contacted her regarding the incident and told her veterinarians are following up to determine if the pigs were in distress.

“However, we do believe, because of the breathing, because of the frothing of the mouth, because of the crowding that the pigs were indeed in distress,” Blaise said.

Animal Justice released a petition on Tuesday, asking the CFIA to enforce the transport legislation surrounding overcrowding, which can be found on that organization’s website.

Blaise started KARMA earlier this year.

She said Kamloops lacks an animal-rights group, noting KARMA, which has about 15 members, aims to spread awareness about investigations and plans to organize events such as volunteering at animal sanctuaries. Blaise said the group also wants to give people an opportunity to learn about animal rights.

Editor's note: This story was updated on July 18 to add comments from the CFIA.