Companies, B.C. man charged in alleged chicken abuse in Fraser Valley
Two companies and one B.C. man have been charged following an investigation into disturbing allegations of chicken abuse in the Fraser Valley.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's probe began last year after animal rights activists released undercover video that allegedly captured farm workers mistreating chickens, slamming them against crates and even tearing the leg off a live bird.
This week, the CFIA announced a total of 38 charges under the Health of Animals Regulations against Chilliwack-based labour contractor Elite Farm Services Ltd. and owner Dwayne Paul Dueck, as well as Markham, Ont.-based Sofina Foods Inc.
The regulations prohibit anyone from beating an animal or loading it in a way "likely to cause injury or undue suffering," the CFIA said.
Sofina Foods sells chicken under the Lilydale brand, and contracts Elite Farm Services to catch the birds. CTV News was unable to reach Elite on Thursday, and Sofina issued an email statement saying it is "not in a position to provide any more details as it is very early in the proceeding."
"This matter is in its initial stages. We are currently reviewing the recent information provided by CFIA; however, this lengthy process will require some time to complete," a spokesperson said.
The undercover video was recorded by Mercy for Animals and released in June 2017, causing outrage among animal welfare groups.
Elite Farm Services fired six employees shortly after, including a crew supervisor, and issued a statement saying it was "sickened with the footage."
"This is not reflective of who we are, our fundamental beliefs or behavior we accept from our employees," Dueck said at the time.
On Thursday, Mercy for Animals said it's pleased by the current charges under the Health of Animals Regulations, but that it hopes to see more laid at the provincial level.
"Given the severity of the case, this certainly merits further charges under the Criminal Code or (B.C.’s Prevention of Cruetly to Animals Act) as well," managing director Alanna Devine said.
The B.C. Prosecution Service told CTV News it's still assessing whether to lay charges in connection with the allegations.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Angela Jung