The 'Pig Trial' Decision: The Save Movement, Legal Mischief, and the Legal Invisibilization of Farmed Animal Suffering

38 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2018

See all articles by Maneesha Deckha

Maneesha Deckha

University of Victoria - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 31, 2018


In the summer of 2015, animal activist and Toronto Pig Save co-founder Anita Krajnc gave water to a pig on a transport truck that eventually led to her prosecution for criminal mischief. The trial that ensued attracted international media coverage and yielded the judgment in R v Krajnc in May 2017. R v Krajnc is exceptional for an array of reasons that compel its close analysis. In terms of the defence counsel’s novel legal arguments in favour of farmed animals, and their consideration by the court as reflected in the written judgment, the case is unparalleled in Canada and worldwide. Defence counsel highlights the pigs’ sentience, sociality, and subjectivities in order to contest their propertied status and demonstrate their suffering as farmed animals, as well as advance arguments that expose the multiple detrimental impacts of industrial animal farming on people and the planet generally. When we consider these features and know that Krajnc was acquitted, it seems that the case is a clear “win” for animal advocates seeking to disrupt the discursive representations of animals within the farmed animal system. To the contrary, this paper argues that the judgment instead legally reinforces what Yamini Narayanan calls the “invisibilization” of farmed animals. This legal invisibilization occurs through the court’s short-circuiting of multiple opportunities from the defence’s submissions to express concern over the treatment of animals in confinement farming or recognize their vulnerability or suffering. Specifically, the decision adopts implicit and explicit anthropocentric assumptions (that could have been avoided and were not inevitable even allowing for the legal status of animals as property) and expresses a cavalier attitude to the suffering of the pigs. In other words, the judgment implicitly takes the normativity of industrial farming, instead of the vulnerability and suffering of animals, as a generative departure point. This position minimizes the gravity of the violence farmed animals endure, but also stigmatizes non-normative views regarding the treatment of farmed animals, and reinforces farmed animals non-subject status in the colonial settler legal order.

Suggested Citation

Deckha, Maneesha, The 'Pig Trial' Decision: The Save Movement, Legal Mischief, and the Legal Invisibilization of Farmed Animal Suffering (July 31, 2018). Ottawa Law Review, Vol. 50, No. 1, 2018, Available at SSRN:

Maneesha Deckha (Contact Author)

University of Victoria - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2Y2
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