Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Undercover video at Chilliwack cattle farm leads to cruelty charges

March 1, 2016 CTV News

The SPCA has announced a slew of charges against a Chilliwack cattle farm where activists captured shocking undercover video of alleged animal abuse two years ago. Crown Counsel has approved 20 counts of animal cruelty against Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd. and seven of its employees, the SPCA revealed Tuesday.

Sixteen of the charges are under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and involve offences against dairy cows, while the other four are under the Wildlife Act and involve the treatment of a pigeon.

The SPCA started investigating the farm after reviewing unsettling footage shot on the property in May and April 2014. The video showed employees “using chains, canes, rakes, their booted feet and their fists to viciously whip, punch, kick and beat dairy cows, including downed and trapped cows who could not escape the abuse,” SPCA chief enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty said in a release.

Employees Travis Keefer, Jonathan Talbot, Jamie Visser, Chris Vandyke, Cody Larson and Brad Genereux are all charged with causing distress and failing to protect an animal from distress. Vandyke, Keefer and Visser are also charged with two other counts relating to kicking and hitting a cow. A seventh worker, Lloyd Blackwell, is also charged, but the SPCA hasn’t revealed with which count or counts.

Moriarty said the investigation also marks the first time a B.C. company has been held accountable for acts of cruelty on a farm. “We are extremely pleased that in addition to laying charges against the individual employees, Crown has also held the company and its directors accountable for this unacceptable treatment of the animals,” she said.

John Kooyman, Kenneth Kooyman, Wesley Kooyman, Jeffrey Kooyman and Bradley Kooyman are all charged with causing or permitting animals to be in distress and of another count, which requires people responsible for animals to protect them from circumstances likely to cause them distress.

The undercover video was shot by members of Mercy for Animal Canada, who worked at the farm undercover. Its release and the resulting public outcry led to the B.C. government adopting new regulations to protect dairy cattle under the province’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The SPCA said the B.C. Milk Marketing Board also incorporated generally accepted practices from the Dairy Code of Canada into its requirements for farms.  

NB: No criminal charges were laid under the Criminal Code of Canada. March 2, 2016 Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith introduced Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, at a press conference today in Toronto. Go here to contact your MP and tell them to support Bill C-246. Update: Oct./16 Bill C-246 was defeated, 198 to 84.

May 18, 2017 update: A judge sentenced the three who pleaded guilty in the Chilliwack Cattle Sales case to jail time. BC Supreme Court Justice Gary Cohen handed Travis Keefer to seven days jail and he is forbidden from being in care or control of animals for one year. Chris Vandyke and Jamie Visser were sentenced to 60 days in jail and are banned from owning animals for three years. This is the first time in Canadian history that workers were sentenced to jail for malicious animal abuse after an undercover investigation by an animal protection organization. The charges stemmed from a June 2014 video released by Mercy for Animals.

The entire animal agriculture industry itself is inherently abusive & cruel, and for those cows to be further subjected to torture is extremely disturbing and repugnant. Please continue to fight for the voiceless. The legal system responds to changing values & concerns within society.

June 29, 2017 update: One more of the seven men caught on undercover video abusing cows at a Chilliwack dairy farm is off to jail. Cody Larson was sentenced to 20 days jail and given a $4,000 fine. He is also banned from owning or caring for large animals for one year. Lloyd Blackwell was given a $7,000 fine, a three-year ban on caring for animals and no jail time.

September 6, 2017: A seventh worker has pleaded guilty to charges filed following an animal cruelty investigation at Canada’s largest dairy farm, Chilliwack Cattle Sales. Jonathan Talbot pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for causing distress to animals and failure to care for or protect animals, both relating to the cattle. He also pleaded guilty to one count under the BC Wildlife Act of “molestation of a pigeon.” Talbot will return to the Chilliwack Provincial Law Court for sentencing in a few weeks. (various media sources)

September 28, 2017: The sixth of seven men caught on undercover video abusing cows at a Chilliwack dairy farm was sentenced to 35 days in jail in provincial court. Jonathan Talbot is also banned from being in care or having custody of large animals for two years. Then, on October 4th, Brad Genereux was given a 45 day sentence. As part of his sentence, the worker is also prohibited from having custody or care of large animals for 18 months. However, the court decided to make an exception to his probation terms. He will be permitted to work at Cedarwal Farms in Abbotsford, a 350-acre dairy home to 400 cows. In our eyes, this is totally reprehensible and a slap in the face for any real justice.

Read more: Canada’s largest dairy farm crippled by abuse allegations from undercover animal rights worker on his first mission

Saputo vows to use “whatever resources I have” to reform dairy industry in wake of BC abuse of dairy cows