cows highway 401

Vegans try to save cows found wandering on Toronto highway

Animal rights activists are furious in the wake of a highway crash that killed 12 cows and saw roughly a dozen more escape their cattle carrier, only to be rounded back up for slaughter.

The incident took place around 11:30 p.m. on Friday night after a transport truck hit a cement barrier on the 401 near Hurontario Street in Mississauga.

Police say the collision split open one side of the truck's trailer, allowing about 12 animals to get loose and block traffic on the busy highway.

The driver, a 36-year-old Mount Forest man who has since been charged with careless driving, sustained only minor injuries in the crash.

His passengers (or cargo, as it were) did not get so lucky.

Ontario Provincial Police and Mississauga firefighters arrived to find a herd of terrified cows running free, some of them injured, and closed down a portion of the 401 in both directions to round them up.

It took crews several hours to corral the cattle back into a crate as onlookers snapped photos.

One onlooker,  Jessii Mascarin, live streamed video footage from the scene on Facebook while trying to help one of the injured cows.

"All right vegans, I need your f**king help," she starts. "I'm on the 401... there's a cow in the middle of the highway... I'm not wearing safety gear, I hope I don't get in trouble."

"It's a baby! It's a baby," says Mascarin as she approaches an injured cow, pleading with police officers to call a vet and get medical attention for the bleeding calf.

Officers escorted the young woman back to her car where she started another live stream.

"These cows were meant to be veal, and chances are, are still going to be veal," said Mascarin in that video. "These cows were in a car accident, there is one up the road who has a broken foot and half of his tongue hanging out. These animals are going to die because of society's choices." 

Prominent animal rights activist Jenny McQueen later actions, noting that the vegan bystander "spoke with the drivers around her" and "distributed vegan literature to the onlookers."

"Many hearts and minds will be changed by her actions," wrote McQueen in a release sent to media.

"This is the brutal reality of Canadian animal agriculture. Slaughter trucks going too fast, being involved in accidents, injured animals being killed or even taken to the slaughterhouse without any concern for their wellbeing."

McQueen and others who support the Save Movement called police, the OSPCA and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in an attempt to rescue at least one cow and send it to a sanctuary.

Their efforts, thus far, have been unsuccessful.

One of McQueen's followers said that she did get a reply from the OPP, but that she was told that "the remaining cows are with their owner."

"Animals feel pain, just like us, and deserve better," says McQueen. "[I've] secured a sanctuary space for the injured cow, why wouldn't they let us save one?"

Likely because cows and all other animals are considered property, as opposed to autonomous beings, under the law.

Lead photo by

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt

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