Chilliwack isn’t just a bad Canadian band that peaked in 1977 and that my high-school girlfriend happened to like (to her credit, she introduced me to Neil Young), it’s a town in B.C. and home of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, Canada’s largest dairy farm and a major supplier to Dairyland, where eight employees were secretly recorded brutally abusing cows.
The undercover video from the non-profit group Mercy for Animals Canada — shot by a former employee of the farm — shows dairy cows being whipped and beaten with chains and canes, as well as punched and kicked.
A day after the B.C. SPCA recommended charges against the eight employees, it has emerged that the same farm was in court in 2008, after six cows were injured while being transferred to slaughter.
The case went to the B.C. Supreme Court, but the farm, which is owned by the Kooyman family, was cleared of all charges.
Then last year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency charged meat processing operation Pitt Meadows Meats, also owned by the Kooymans, with selling E. coli tainted beef in 2010.
That case is still before the courts.
Farm owner Jeff Kooyman said those cases do not reflect on the quality of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, which has 3,500 dairy cows.
“We have high standards and when you’re working with that many employees, things do happen. We’ve got to work harder at regulations, more inspections,” said Kooyman.
Kooyman said he and his family knew nothing about the cruel treatment of the cattle, saying his company has zero tolerance for animal abuse.
Anna Pippus, director of legal advocacy with Mercy for Animals Canada, described the abuse as sadistic and rejected Kooyman’s claim that none of the owners knew about the abuse.
“Our undercover investigator repeatedly brought his concerns to the farm’s owners, who failed to take any corrective action,” said Pippus.
“The company allowed criminal cruelty to animals to flourish on its watch. Without our investigation, this cruelty would have continued to run rampant indefinitely.”
The farm is a major milk supplier to Dairyland, which is owned by Montreal-based dairy giant Saputo. Pippus accuses Dairyland of failing to properly oversee operations at the farm.