In a media release, the BC SPCA has launched a formal investigation after receiving a disturbing undercover video of multiple workers, including a supervisor, at Elite Farm Services Ltd. in Chilliwack abusing and torturing broiler chickens.
The BC SPCA said Elite, a licensed chicken-catching service, was hired to round up chickens for transport to the Lilydale/Sofina Foods Inc. slaughter plant in Port Coquitlam.
The undercover video, filmed by the non-profit group Mercy for Animals between May 10 and June 9, 2017, documents numerous acts of animal cruelty and gross noncompliance with federal and provincial laws, regulations, and guidelines.
“The images in this video are absolutely sickening and the individual employees and the companies involved need to be held accountable,” said Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the BC SPCA.
The BCSPCA said the video shows workers dismembering and killing, throwing, kicking and hitting the birds and forcing the animals into violent sexual acts with one another.
“The video includes some of the most brutal and sadistic acts of violence against animals I have ever seen,” said Moriarty. “It is extremely difficult to watch.”
Moriarty said the BC SPCA received the video from Mercy for Animals on Friday and immediately launched the investigation.
“We will be putting our report to Crown counsel together as quickly as possible and will be recommending multiple charges of animal cruelty under both the Criminal Code of Canada and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Moriarty says the BC SPCA is also calling on B.C.’s poultry industry to take immediate action.
“We would expect the industry to come out strongly against this abuse by immediately suspending the workers involved, suspending contracts to Elite Farms Services until the matter can be resolved and by reviewing the industry’s monitoring systems across the province to ensure that all workers handling broiler chickens and other poultry are at a minimum meeting the standards outlined in the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys and are acting in compliance with animal transportation and cruelty laws.”
She notes that similar actions were taken two years ago by the dairy industry when a Mercy for Animals undercover video highlighted the abuse of dairy cows in Chilliwack. In that case, a BC SPCA investigation led to charges of animal cruelty against the individuals and company involved, as well as widespread industry changes.
“In that case the BC SPCA also worked with the provincial government to have the Code of Practice for Dairy Cattle adopted into a new regulation, so that the “generally accepted practices” outlined in the code became clearly entrenched in the law,” says Moriarty.
“We will pursue a similar path with government moving forward with the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys.”
If convicted, the individuals and companies involved in this latest investigation face a fine up to $75,000, a maximum five-year jail sentence and up to a lifetime ban on owning or being around animals.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.