Tuesday, May 16, 2017


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Chilliwack Cattle Sales Workers Face Jail

A first in Canadian history

Mercy for Animals/Voice file photo


Workers at Chilliwack Cattle Sales dairy hook up animals to milking machines. (Employees in photo not involved.)


or the first time in Canadian history, three former dairy workers were sentenced to jail for malicious animal abuse after an undercover investigation by an animal protection organization.

Earlier today, Jamie Visser, Chris Vandyke, and Travis Keefer were each sentenced to serve time in jail for violating the BC Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Wildlife Act by the Honourable Justice Gary Cohen of the Chilliwack Law Court. Visser and Vandyke were each sentenced to serve 60 days in jail, and they are prohibited from having custody or control of any animal for three years. Keefer was sentenced to seven days in jail and he is prohibited from having custody or control of any animal for a year. These landmark sentences stem from a 2014 undercover investigation by international animal protection organization Mercy For Animals. Their jail time begins today.

Visser, Vandyke, and Keefer are former employees of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, the largest dairy factory farm in Canada and the subject of the Mercy For Animals investigation. Video footage from the group shows the three defendants viciously beating and sadistically torturing animals. The defendants pleaded guilty to a total of 18 counts of animal cruelty and three counts of molesting a bird.

This sentence marks the first time workers at a Canadian factory farm have been jailed for animal cruelty as a result of hidden-camera footage obtained by an animal protection organization. Last December, Chilliwack Cattle Sales and one of its owners were convicted of animal cruelty and ordered to pay fines totaling almost $350,000. Four workers were also charged. Their cases are set for trial later this month.

Mercy For Animals praises the Crown and the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for pursuing justice for these abused and tormented animals.

At the time of the investigation, Chilliwack Cattle Sales was a major supplier to Saputo, the largest dairy processor in Canada. After discussions with Mercy For Animals, Saputo adopted a new animal welfare policy for its global dairy supply chain that requires zero tolerance for malicious animal cruelty; elimination of painful tail docking; administration of pain control when dehorning cattle; and low-energy animal handling to reduce stress, especially for non-ambulatory cows.

The investigation also 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 cows on Canada's dairies.

Mercy For Animals is calling on all provinces, including BC, 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 require the dairy industry to follow basic minimum standards for animal welfare.

"Animal abuse runs rampant in Canadian factory farms, and the dairy industry is no exception," said Krista Hiddema, vice president for Mercy For Animals in Canada. "This isn't a case of 'bad apples,' but a rotten tree. This case graphically illustrates the need for lawmakers to protect vulnerable farmed animals from extreme cruelty by giving the Dairy Code of Practice the force of law in every province." 

To view the undercover video, visit CanadaDairy.MercyForAnimals.org.

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