It’s been more than two years since a high-profile case of farm-animal cruelty came to light but on Tuesday in provincial court, Chilliwack Cattle Sales (CCS) and one of its directors issued an intention to plead guilty.
Twenty counts of animal cruelty were laid against CCS and seven of its employees in connection to a 2014 undercover video that showed cows being beaten.
The B.C. SPCA recommended the charges after receiving graphic video of cows being kicked, punched and beaten with rods. In one instance, a cow is hoisted up by a forklift from a chain wrapped around its neck and dragged out of its pen as a worker shouts, “Leave her like that.”
The footage was collected using secret cameras as part of an undercover operation conducted by the animal-rights activist group Mercy For Animals.
According to the B.C. SPCA, 16 of the 20 counts fall under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and involve alleged acts of cruelty against dairy cows. Four of the counts are under the Wildlife Act and concern the treatment of a pigeon.
The cattle company’s lawyer, Len Doust told the court on Oct. 4 that CCS and one of the Kooyman brothers would plead guilty at their next court appearance on Dec. 15.
Doust couldn’t say which charge they intend to plead.
The B.C. SPCA said the case marks the first time a B.C. company has been held accountable for acts of animal cruelty on a farm.
The case was called one of the worst cases of farm-animal cruelty in Canada by a B.C. animal rights group.
Days after the video went public, the B.C. Milk Marketing Board said it would not accept milk from Chilliwack Cattle Sales until its operations had been independently audited, and that any of the company’s milk currently in its possession would be destroyed.
The farm’s owner, Jeff Kooyman, said at the time that the video was “horrifying to watch” and pledged to work with the SPCA on better training for staff.
The trial date is set for Dec. 15.