Canada's largest dairy farm target of undercover video

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The BC SPCA is recommending charges of animal cruelty against eight employees of Canada’s largest dairy farm, following a BC SPCA investigation in Chilliwack.

“On June 2, the BC SPCA received an undercover video from the non-profit group Mercy for Animals Canada that showed the employees using chains, canes, rakes, their booted feet and their fists to viciously whip, punch, kick and beat the dairy cows, including downed and trapped cows who could not escape the abuse,” said Marcie Moriarty, the BC SPCA’s chief prevention and enforcement officer. “We immediately launched an investigation into the case and have recommended Criminal Code charges against the eight employees identified in the video for wilfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering and injury to animals.” 

Moriarty said BC SPCA constables attended the property last week along with one of North America’s most respected dairy cattle experts, veterinarian Dr. James Reynolds, as part of an on-going investigation into the animal management practices of the Chilliwack company. The company is currently cooperating with the investigation.

“The images in the undercover video are extremely disturbing and highlight an urgent need for better standards to protect farm animals in B.C. from abuse and neglect,” said Moriarty. While a Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle was published in 2009, she said its requirements have yet to be verified on farms through third-party inspections or adopted into B.C. law.

The BC SPCA recommends that the Canadian Codes of Practice, which set out minimum standards of care for various farm animal species, be incorporated into the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act so that the standards can be enforced. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have already taken the step of enshrining farm animal care standards into their provincial legislation.

Moriarty said the BC SPCA is committed to working with the B.C. government, the BC Dairy Association and other industry associations on measures that would ensure the safe, humane treatment of farm animals while supporting the viability of B.C. producers. “It is important that producers have clear expectations around standards of care for farm animals and that there is a system in place to monitor and enforce these standards.”

She said the humane treatment of farm animals is an issue that resonates strongly with the public.

“The images in the video we received were distressing and clearly unacceptable,” said Moriarty. “British Columbians, including the society’s 80,000 supporters, are increasingly concerned about the treatment of farm animals. We look forward to working with government and industry on solutions to prevent further neglect and abuse among the 100 million farm animals raised in B.C. each year.”

Dave Taylor, chairman of the BC Dairy Association said the association is “deeply concerned and saddened” by the alleged incidents at the Chilliwack farm. “We have been working in close co-operation with the BC SPCA as this investigation has developed and outright condemn any mistreatment of animals in our industry. The BC SPCA has done an excellent job in this investigation thus far and we intend to fully assist in any way necessary.”

To learn more about the humane treatment of dairy cattle, visit spca.bc.ca/dairycattle.
To take action against animal abuse join our campaign at spca.bc.ca/action.

The BC SPCA is a non-profit organization funded primarily by public donations. Our mission is to prevent cruelty and to promote the welfare of animals through a wide range of services, including cruelty investigations, emergency rescue and treatment, sheltering and adoption of homeless and abused animals, humane education, advocacy, farm animal welfare, spay/neuter programs, and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.


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kathy    
Colorado  |  June, 10, 2014 at 09:58 AM

Thank you for writing this article. I am out ranged and sick to my stomach by the video that I viewed. These offenders must be charged with animal cruelty and maybe even treated in the same manner as how they treated those cows.

Stephanie    
Warrenton, VA  |  June, 10, 2014 at 09:05 PM

I hope they pay for the damages of animal cruelty !! These animals are doing a hard job of feeding the human population. What kind of people are they? I wonder what they do to their children??

Peggy Kaun    
Creston, BC  |  June, 10, 2014 at 10:18 PM

Thank you so much for your diligence in uncovering the atrocities against cattle at Chilliwack Cattle Sales. We are all becoming aware of what goes on in some of these factory farm operations. With easy access to cell phone video, these perpetrators will be exposed more often. Documentary films like "Blackfish " are helping to inform the public of these realities. Pressure has to be put on the government to come up with regulations to protect farm animals...regulations with some teeth! It is sickening to say the least to see these helpless animals subjected to such abuse. I don't believe the owners of this operation could possibly be unaware of this abuse. They are in serious damage control right now but a diligent business operation would be aware of the injury to its animals even if they were not a witness to it. Thank you again for all your hard work and dedication.

Joan    
Newmarket, Ontario  |  June, 11, 2014 at 08:00 AM

That's just so sick to see that they were enjoying it. Line them up along with the owner and let them feel that pain. Why were those employee's not fired? Because the owner was likely aware of the abuse and couldn't. Thanks for uncovering this story and I will post on my FB page so it gets additional coverage.

Ray    
ne alta  |  June, 11, 2014 at 03:49 PM

BC labour laws prohibit firing, they need counceling. The owners claim they were unaware of the actions of these employees. As far as the Chilliwack dairy goes these are hard working diligent producers. They are profit motivated and as such do not tolerate abuse, As all livestock producers know stressed cattle do not produce , milk quality goes down as does revenue. I would love it if people would think before running on and on about things they have no knowledge, expertise or understanding.

Peggy Kaun    
Creston, BC  |  June, 13, 2014 at 11:29 AM

"Profit motivated" is the key word here. The owners involved in large factory farms cannot possibly have a hands on approach with 3500 cattle. They rely on workers who have no vested interest in these animals...who are, for the most part, looking to collect their paycheck at the end of the week. It is physically hard and dirty work. I know of instances where workers were hesitant to complain to management because of the fear of losing that paycheck. They have bills to pay too. It is usually ex-employees who come forward with this kind of evidence. It was stated that one of the family owners WAS approached with complaints of abuse and yet nothing was done about it. This is a wake-up call for the whole industry of factory farming whether it be cattle, hogs or chickens. Abuse of farm animals has been going on for too long and the larger the operation, the more chance of it occurring. It is one of the downfalls of corporate farming.

Jeremy    
switching alta  |  June, 14, 2014 at 08:51 PM

As a Alberta dairy farmer that has toured the dairy in question I have to say I am surprised that this abuse was all the under cover agent found to video tape. I don't even know if profit driven correctly describes the Chillawac cattle company. Some of their management decisions like not bothering to breed back any cows but simply buy in every replacement heifers and milking cull cow for sale in the valley, is more like what one would expect of a dairy in China than Canada or even the USA.


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