June 17, 2017 8:42 pm
Updated: June 18, 2017 12:06 pm

Animal activists take to Lilydale plant to protest alleged mistreatment of chickens

WATCH: Animal rights activists protest outside a poultry processing facility after shocking video alleging brutal treatment of chicken is released. Jill Bennett reports.

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Port Coquitlam’s Lilydale processing plant was the site of a demonstration on Saturday when a group of animal rights activists gathered to protest the company’s alleged mistreatment of chickens.

The protest comes in the wake of an undercover video showing handlers at the Chilliwack-based Elite Farm Services abusing the birds while loading them into shipping containers bound for the Port Coquitlam plant.

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That video, released by animal welfare group Mercy for Animals, showed employees mistreating the animals in various ways, including hitting and kicking the chickens, and ripping their heads and legs off.

Animal activist and former undercover investigator Geoff Regier says the treatment isn’t limited to Elite.

“I’ve worked in farms and slaughterhouses across the country and I know first-hand that animal cruelty runs rampant in Canada’s animal agriculture industry.”

READ MORE: 6 employees fired after undercover video reveals alleged abuse of chickens by Chilliwack company

Though the video’s release resulted in the firing of six of the employees of Elite Farms Services, Regier says the practice is systemic to the industry as a whole.

“The problem is not with a few low-level workers. Companies need to be held accountable for creating a farming system that is a living nightmare for animals. The only way to stop the cruelty is to stop the killing.”

The BC SPCA is currently investigating the six employees charged, and convictions could result in a prison sentence of up to five years.

Speaking with Global News, activist Jen Dobell echoed his sentiment, saying that while the video was certainly shocking, it wasn’t a surprise.

“That’s nothing new to any of us. We know that this is rampant in the industry and it’s often portrayed as an anomaly. It isn’t.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack dairy farm pleads guilty to animal abuse

As for the dozens of like-minded protesters who showed up to the demonstration, Dobell says they’re just standing up for what’s right.

“I just feel compelled to save them. They don’t have a voice. They don’t have rights. It’s just not fair.”

Sofina Foods Inc., a division of Lilydale and the company that contracted Elite, released a statement in the wake of the video’s release, saying they “do not in any way tolerate or condone” the actions of Elite’s employees.

Meanwhile, Elite Farm Services has released a statement of their own, pledging to “co-operate fully with any government or enforcement authorities to ensure this never happens again.”

With files from Jill Bennett

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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