UPDATE: Chicken catchers to wear body cameras following abuse video

Animal rights activists call the move ‘absolutely ridiculous’ unless footage is live-streamed

Employees from a Chilliwack-based chicken catching company will now be equipped with body cameras, company officials say.

The move follows the release of horrific undercover footage by Mercy for Animals that showed live birds being torn apart, stomped and thrown. The video is driving a major shakeup in industry practice.

On Wednesday, Elite Services president Duane Dueck said the company has pledged big changes in quick order.

Three Elite workers were dismissed as a direct result of the video.

Brand-new operating procedures now include new video system for the chicken-catching service hired to round up and transport chickens.

“Effective immediately, it will be mandatory for one supervisor and two staff members in each barn to wear cameras on their safety vests to capture the activity within the barn,” said Dueck, in a follow-up news release.

Video footage of barn activity will checked daily, and the plan is to get the cameras up and running within two weeks. They are currently being tested in the field.

Mercy for Animals Canada vice-president Krista Hiddema called the announcement the company would use body cameras “absolutely ridiculous.”

“If they wanted to truly do something meaningful then they should ensure those cameras are live-streamed to the Internet,” she said. “If they have cameras on their bodies, it is no different than what they are doing today.”

After the videos were release, Elite Services said they responded with company-wide “refresh and retraining” that started on June 13. This process was in conjunction to updating the Standards and Procedures for the organization, and incorporating the new safety and video requirements.

“Today, Elite Services will introduce a comprehensive organizational update to the new SOP and all employees will be asked to sign new orientation documentation affirming that they understand the care, concern and procedures that our organization demands.

“It is our hope that the senseless acts of violence that were perpetrated in the video will be a catalyst to implement new elevated levels of animal care, not just at Elite Services, but industry wide.

“It is our intent to share the experience of our new best practices with industry regulators, and adopt other best practices from cutting edge producers.”

Dueck also corrected some incorrect details released by mistake, “due to the rapidly evolving nature of this event, and in an effort to respond swiftly.”

Of the five Elite employees who were dismissed, two in fact had already been let go prior to the release of the video.

“The other three employees were terminated as a direct result of the video. Since the release of the June 13 statement, after a detailed forensic review of the video, one additional person has been identified and terminated,” said Dueck. “We wanted to ensure that the correct information was shared in a timely manner.”

Hiddema remain unimpressed with the company’s response to the undercover videos and she hopes criminal charges are being considered.

“It’s almost comical that they are taking the position they are going to wear cameras,” she said. “It’s still a matter of the fox guarding the henhouse.”

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