Monday, December 19, 2016

Record fine for dairy farm

Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd. has been fined $258,700 and one of its directors, Wesley Kooyman, $86,250 by a British Columbia judge handling animal welfare charges against the dairy farm.

Kooyman has been banned for a year from owning or working alone with dairy cattle; he can if he is under supervision.

The farm is Canada’s largest dairy, working with a rotary milking system.

The judge, who viewed video evidence of cattle being beaten, said he found it "deeply disturbing, very callous" abuse of cattle, and imposed maximum fines.

Kooyman pleaded guilty to one charge and his company to three charges. Staff face additional charges and are scheduled for trial in May.

Provincial court Judge Robert Gunnell accepted a joint submission from the defence and Crown to fine the company and Kooyman the maximum amounts.

"The defendants did not properly supervise or train their employees, and as a result these animals suffered significant abuse," said Gunnell.

"I expect the impact on the company and the family will be financially significant. I believe it sends a significant sign to others."

Twenty charges were originally laid against the company and seven of its employees following an undercover video investigation by Mercy for Animals, an animal-advocacy organization.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it was the first time a B.C. company has been held accountable for acts of cruelty on a farm.

The remaining charges against Chilliwack Cattle Sales and its directors will be stayed, the court heard.