Elite Farm Services workers seen throwing chickens at a Chilliwack farm in undercover video filmed by Mercy for Animals.

Elite Farm Services workers seen throwing chickens at a Chilliwack farm in undercover video filmed by Mercy for Animals.

UPDATE: Chilliwack company and owner faces charges for 2017 abuse of chickens

CFIA investigation leads to 38 charges against Elite Farm Services and Ontario-based Sofina Foods

A Chilliwack company, its owner, and an Ontario company face a total of 38 charges under the Health of Animals Regulations in connection with alleged animal abuse caught on video at Fraser Valley poultry farms a year and a half ago.

One video shot at an Elite Farm Services operation in Chilliwack and showed chickens being kicked, stomped on, sexually abused and having their limbs torn off.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack chicken catchers accused of ‘torturing’ birds in undercover videos

The charges come as a result of an investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) following receipt of an undercover video.

Facing 38 charges are Elite Farm Services Ltd., the company’s owner Dwayne Paul Dueck from Chilliwack, and Sofina Foods Inc./Aliments Sofina Inc., Markham, Ont.

The charges stem from undercover videos filmed by animal protection group Mercy For Animals (MFA) whose managing director said more charges under different statutes could be coming.

“It’s high time Elite Farm Services and Sofina Foods were held accountable for their blatant mistreatment of chickens, who feel pain and suffering just like dogs and cats,” MFA managing director Alanna Devine said in a press release. “We are also anxiously waiting to see whether further charges will be laid after the BC SPCA recommended multiple charges of animal cruelty under both the Criminal Code of Canada and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act over a year ago.”

The specific sections of the Health of Animal Regulations alleged to have been violated are 139(1) “No person shall beat an animal being loaded or unloaded in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering to it,” and 139(2) “No person shall load or unload, or cause to be loaded or unloaded, an animal in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering to it.

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS), which expressed concern in May of this year how long it was taking for charges to laid, issued a statement Thursday.

• READ MORE: One year later, still no charges in Chilliwack chicken abuse case

“We’re pleased that charges have finally been laid in this case, which involves allegations of some of the worst animal abuse we’ve seen,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker. “Those responsible should be held to account and punished to the full extent of the law.”

Lawyer and director of Farmed Animal Advocacy, Tweeted out that it was “pretty major” that companies were being charged rather than just low-level farmworkers as is often the case.

• RELATED: Last man sentenced in Chilliwack cattle abuse gets 45 days

“Industry usually dismisses cruelty uncovered in investigations as being the result of a few bad apples. Low-level workers are thrown under the bus. In this case, it’s rightly the companies being held to account for creating and permitting a climate in which cruelty flourishes.”

Elite Farm Services, Dwayne Paul Dueck, and Sofina Foods are scheduled to appear in Chilliwack provincial court on Dec. 18.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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