Chilliwack Cattle Sales and one of its directors, Wesley Kooyman, have pleaded guilty to three counts of animal cruelty charges.
20 charges of animal cruelty were laid against the company and seven of its employees this spring, two years after an undercover video investigation by an animal welfare group showed employees violently beating dairy cows.
Kooyman and the company now face $225,000 in fines along with a victim surcharge.
Krista Hiddema is the vice-president of Mercy for Animals Canada, an organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals.
She is adamant about who the blame falls upon.
“Well we believe that the Kooyman family should be held accountable, and clearly so does the justice system. What we see is systemic abuse within this facility; this is not a one-off situation. Had we not gone into this facility, this abuse would be happening today,” she said.
Hiddema added that she felt sick when watching the video of employees punching and kicking cows.
“We have of course, video of a sick and injured cow with a chain around her neck being hoisted in the air, all the while workers yelling ‘yahoo,’ and clearly enjoying themselves,” she said.
Chilliwack Cattle Sales says it accepts the court’s judgement, and released a statement regarding today’s court appearance.
“Animal care is of primary importance on our farm and the shocking events that we became aware of in June 2014 were a wake-up call for our company. We acknowledge that at the time our training and supervision was not adequate to prevent the inexcusable actions,” writes the company.
A trial for several other employees is scheduled for late May.
Story by Trevor Knapp