Today is a historic day for farmed animals in Canada! Earlier today, Chilliwack Cattle Sales—the largest dairy factory farm in Canada, as well as one of its owners, were convicted of violating the BC Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The company and its owner were sentenced to the maximum monetary penalty allowable by law—fines of $75,000 per count. The factory farm pled guilty to three counts of animal cruelty. One of its owners, Wesley Kooyman, pled guilty to one count of animal cruelty. He is also prohibited from owning animals and having any control over the factory farm for one year.
These landmark convictions stem from an MFA investigation showing dairy workers viciously kicking, punching, and beating animals with chains, metal pipes, canes, and rakes. This is the first time a factory farm and its owner have been convicted of animal cruelty for the acts of their employees following an undercover investigation by an animal protection group. Seven workers were also charged with animal cruelty. Their cases are still pending.
Watch the undercover footage that led to these convictions here:
This investigation prompted BC agricultural minister Norm Letnick to amend the BC Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to incorporate the Dairy Code of Practice. The Dairy Code of Practice outlines minimum guidelines concerning the treatment and welfare of Canada’s dairy cows.
According to reports obtained this year through freedom of information requests, the BC Milk Marketing Board found that more than 25 percent of BC dairy farms failed to comply with the provincial Code of Practice for animal welfare over an 18-month period. Inspection reports showed numerous problems, including overcrowding, lame or soiled cattle, tails accidentally torn off by machinery, branding and dehorning of calves without pain medication, cows lying on concrete, and failure to produce a manual outlining management practices on individual farms.
MFA is calling on all provinces to give the Dairy Code of Practice the force of law in their provincial animal cruelty legislation. Giving the code the force of law will make these important animal welfare guidelines requirements and help ensure that dairy cows receive a basic level of care and humane handling.
No amount in fines can undo the malicious torture that the cows at Chilliwack Cattle Sales were forced to endure. However, these convictions are a step in the right direction and should send a strong message to the dairy industry that animal abuse will not be tolerated.
Ultimately, the best thing that we can do to protect dairy cows and all animals from needless suffering and violence is to choose a healthy and humane vegan diet. Visit ChooseVeg.com to get started!