Canada Steps Up And Cracks Down Hard On Abusive Farmers

Canada’s biggest dairy factory farm has been found guilty of 20 animal cruelty charges — a landmark conviction resulting in $350,000 in fines for workers and one of the company’s owners.

The charges stem from a 2014 video taken by a former employee at Chilliwack Cattle Sales in British Columbia, as part of an investigation by Mercy For Animals Canada.

The disturbing video caught workers brutalizing cows with boots, pipes, chains and rakes.

Image Source: Mercy For Animals Canada

“These charges are a landmark in Canada, so quite frankly it feels really good,” Krista Hiddema, managing director for Mercy for Animals Canada, told CBC News at the time.

Last week, three workers — Travis Keefer, Chris Vandyke, and Jamie Visser — were found guilty of violating the province’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. They will be sentenced this week, while four more workers are still awaiting trial.

In addition, Wesley Kooyman, one of the owners at Chilliwack Cattle Sales, is still serving a one-year ban from owning animals and having any control over the operation.

Among the charges, 16 fall under the province’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act — including causing distress to an animal and failing to care and protect an animal from distress.

Image Source: Mercy For Animals Canada

At one point, the video showed employees gleefully torturing a pigeon — an incident that earned workers additional charges under the British Columbia Wildlife Act for “molesting a pigeon.”

“In the video, four of the individuals were seen throwing a pigeon back and forth, tying a string around it, and causing it pain and suffering,” Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), told Motherboard.

“It’s very callous and disturbing footage, I will say.”

“It is obvious the dairy industry is incapable of self-regulation,” Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals, noted in a press release. “We need stronger laws and more oversight to protect farmed animals from needless cruelty and violence.”