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.”
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.