VANCOUVER—In June 2014, Chilliwack Cattle Sales—Canada’s largest dairy facility—was exposed for harbouring a brutal culture of animal cruelty against dairy cows after an employee spent four weeks secretly documenting the conditions. The undercover footage revealed cows being viciously kicked, beaten, and abused, as well as pigeons being abused after getting caught in the milking parlour.
After nearly 21 months, Crown prosecutors have laid 20 counts of animal cruelty under the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Wildlife Act. In addition to charging seven employees, Crown counsel also elected to charge the company’s five directors for allowing brutal animal cruelty to take place on their watch.
Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy with Animal Justice, said:
“We commend Crown counsel for laying charges in this important case. Farmed animal cruelty takes place on private property in windowless warehouses, and it is exceedingly rare that it is ever brought to light. When evidence of farmed animal cruelty is brought forth, it is critical for law enforcement to hold animal abusers accountable and send a strong message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated.
“It is heartening that prosecutors are charging Chilliwack Cattle Sales itself rather than solely targeting low-level employees. On modern commercial farms, hundreds of millions of animals each year suffer from intensive confinement, unnatural living conditions, and psychological torment. It is the companies that ultimately need to be held accountable for creating a system where animals are treated like commodities in the relentless pursuit of profit.
“Nevertheless, Animal Justice is alarmed that prosecutors elected to lay provincial regulatory charges rather than criminal charges. The federal Criminal Code is the strongest legal tool society can use to denounce antisocial and unacceptable behaviour. The animal abuse unearthed at Chilliwack Cattle Sales was malicious, callous, and highly disturbing. It is hard to imagine a more suitable situation for criminal charges.”