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Tavistock man sentenced in deaths of 1,500 pigs at Norfolk County pig farm

China's pig population is currently in the midst of a deadly swine fever epidemic, with over 1.2 million pigs having been destroyed. Scott Olson / Getty Images

A 28-year-old Tavistock, Ont., man has been handed a lifetime ban on owning or caring for any animals after pleading guilty earlier this year to animal cruelty in the deaths of more than 1,500 pigs at a pig farm in Norfolk County, Ontario’s animal welfare agency said Thursday.

Ben Stein pleaded guilty in January to four counts of animal cruelty under the Ontario SPCA (OSPCA) Act, including permitting an animal to be in distress, and failing to provide adequate and appropriate sanitary conditions, ventilation, and medical attention.

The charges stemmed from a disturbing discovery made by OSPCA officers on Feb. 17, 2017, at a pig farm in Langton, Ont., about 80 kilometres southeast of London, Ont. The agency had received a complaint from the public about the welfare of pigs on the property.

Upon entering a flooded, manure-filled barn in total darkness, the officers discovered dead and dying pigs.

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The OSPCA says approximately 1,265 pigs were dead and an additional 250 pigs had to be euthanized on site due to the severe condition in which they were found.

Stein was sentenced Thursday in a Norfolk County Provincial Offences Court.

As part of his sentence, Stein can never again own, care for, or be in control of any animal in the business of husbandry. In addition, he will be the subject of unannounced OSPCA inspections for the next 10 years, and must pay the OSPCA $10,000.

Stein was also handed a two-year probation, during which time he must not commit any offence or similar offence; must appear when required to court; notify the court of any address change; and report to probation services when and as directed, the OSPCA said.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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