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Pigs rounded up on Toronto highway ramp

TORONTO - Fifty frightened pigs wandered around a Toronto highway on-ramp early Monday, as 81 others lay dead or dying amid the squealing and grunting cargo of an overturned transport truck.

TORONTO - Fifty frightened pigs wandered around a Toronto highway on-ramp early Monday, as 81 others lay dead or dying amid the squealing and grunting cargo of an overturned transport truck.

The gruesome scene greeted emergency crews who arrived in the dead of night at the crash site in the city's west end.

"They were in various stages of injury. Some were completely uninjured, right up to many (that) had been killed on impact," said provincial police Const. Graham Williamson.

The big rig was carrying 250 pigs to an abattoir. But police said it was going too fast for the curved Highway 427 on-ramp to the eastbound Gardiner Expressway. It rolled over onto its right side about 4:30 a.m.

The impact of the crash ripped the roof off the trailer, allowing dozens of the animals to escape onto the road, where they walked around, some licking the ground.

Corralling them was a difficult process that took almost eight hours for animal protection workers, firefighters and police.

Firefighters used ladders to create a makeshift pigpen. Long poles were used to try to coax the stubborn animals into another truck. The pigs huddled together, ignoring human efforts to round them up.

"You're dealing with live animals. They have feelings of fear, of course. They're extremely stressed out by the entire operation, the procedure, the actual incident," said Williamson.

All of the animals were examined by a veterinarian at the scene.

In addition to the 81 pigs killed in the crash, seven animals were so badly injured they were euthanized on the spot. Two of them were shot dead by police, the rest were killed with a tool used in abattoirs.

It was almost 1 p.m. before all the animals that had survived the crash were removed from the ramp and damaged rig and loaded onto another livestock truck.

The pigs were taken to an undisclosed site where they were to be monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for 24 hours to determine if they were still suitable for slaughter.

The dead animals were left in the trailer, which was to be taken to a Ministry of Transportation yard where the carcasses would be removed before the truck was taken for repairs.

The 26-year-old truck driver from Norwich, Ont., was charged with careless driving. He was not injured.

The crash slowed traffic through the area for hours and the on-ramp remained closed into mid-afternoon.

It was the second time in less than a week that inspectors with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were dispatched to a rollover of a truck carrying pigs.

Last week, the OSPCA was called out to Orangeville, Ont., where more than 350 pigs died in a rig rollover. That driver was also charged with careless driving.

"It's really sad to see and have to work with," OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross said Monday.

"It was a sad day."

 
 
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