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B.C. animal rights activists disrupt SPCA fundraiser

Charity’s supporters were forced to wait outside a Vancouver hotel banquet hall.
Animal rights protesters were arrested Oct. 21 as they disrupted an SPCA fundraiser.

Holding images of alleged animal cruelty at an Abbotsford hog farm, B.C. animal rights activists disrupted an SPCA fundraiser Oct. 21 in Vancouver.

As part of their protest, the activists called on B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture Pam Alexis to replace the BC SPCA with a more transparent, accountable, and effective enforcement agency. 

The event they targeted was the SPCA’s annual “Offleashed” fundraising gala.

“Hundreds of the charity’s supporters were forced to wait outside of the banquet hall, while entrance to the event was delayed,” the group said in a statement. “Three activists were arrested for trespass, taken into custody, and released later that night.”

The group said the protest was also done in support of the so-called Excelsior 4, activists who were arrested in 2019 for trying to expose animal cruelty at Abbotsford’s Excelsior Hog Farm.

Two of the four — Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer — were convicted in July 2022 of break and enter and criminal mischief.

“Charges have never been brought against Excelsior despite ample evidence of criminal animal cruelty,” the group said.

“We need to better enforce anti-cruelty laws in the animal agriculture industry instead of criminalizing activists like the Excelsior 4, who only want to bring attention to abuse going on in the industry,” group member Zoe Peled said.

BC SPCA spokesperson Kaila Butler told Glacier Media a small number of protesters were at the fundraiser.

“Although they remained respectful and peaceful, repeated requests to leave were declined and the BC SPCA engaged both on-site and hired security teams for assistance. The fundraiser was able to continue successfully despite minor delays to the programming,” Butler said.

She said the BC SPCA remains committed to doing everything it can, "under the limitations of the law, to advocate for the advancement of animal welfare across the province and throughout Canada, including in the farmed animal space.”

The activists want Alexis to replace the BC SPCA, a private charity that is accountable only to its board of directors, with a government agency that is accountable to the people of B.C. 

Peled said Soranno and Schafer were granted bail pending an appeal as they seek to set aside their convictions and request a new trial.

The appeal hearing is set for Nov. 23 in Vancouver, Peled said.