We at Mercy For Animals honor the life and mourn the loss of Regan Russell—a longtime animal protection activist who was recently killed by a transport truck full of pigs on their way to slaughter. A devoted member of Toronto Pig Save, 65-year-old Russell was killed while attending a vigil outside the Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse.
According to witnesses, Russell had been giving water and comfort to pigs inside a transport truck shortly before she died. Russell’s life partner, Mark Powell, said in a statement:
She died fighting for what she believed in. Whatever it cost, she would pay. ... Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes, it’s this.
Toronto Pig Save posted on their website that Russell had attended weekly vigils “for years” and had been an advocate for animals since 1979. Russell not only cared about justice for animals but was passionate about racial justice and protecting the most vulnerable.
The day she died, Russell was protesting the enactment of Ontario’s new ag-gag law. The law criminalizes entering a farming operation without the farmer’s consent. “Consent” is broadly defined to ensure it applies to anyone on the premises—including those permitted on the premises, such as employees. This means that anyone found to have filmed on the farm could be prosecuted—not for filming but for entering the farm without “consent.” This law, along with others like it, is designed to sweep evidence of animal cruelty under the rug and shield the meat industry from consequences.
Russell also provided pigs on transport trucks with water. Animal transport is notorious for cramming animals into overcrowded trailers and forcing them to endure grueling conditions in all weather extremes without food, water, or rest. The little bit of love shown to them by Russell and her fellow activists is likely the only kindness those pigs ever received.
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Cover photos: Toronto Pig Save