Some employees caught on undercover video abusing poultry at Chilliwack chicken farms have been fired.
That’s the word from the president of the farm labour company that provides chicken catching services to Fraser Valley farmers.
Company president Dwayne Dueck said in a statement that an internal audit on practices, guidelines and training was in the works.
“We are sickened with the footage and want to ensure all our suppliers and producers that this is not reflective of who we are, our fundamental beliefs or behavior we accept from our employees,” Dueck said in the statement issued Tuesday.
The undercover video filmed by animal rights activist group Mercy for Animals shows employees ripping live birds apart as well as stomping, kicking and throwing chickens.
WARNING: This video shows disturbing images of animal abuse that may upset some viewers
The Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) issued a statement Tuesday calling the video “shocking and reprehensible.”
The CFC said they have a third-party audited Animal Care Program that is enforced on every farm.
“If a farm is found not to be complying with the Animal Care Program standards, or is causing undue suffering to birds, the farmer is subject to penalties and the proper authorities will be contacted,” the statement said, in part.
Included in the Mercy for Animals b-roll footage is video linking Elite vehicles to the farms where the alleged abuse occurred. One clip shows the undercover videographer using his phone to show the address of a Chilliwack chicken farm, and another shows a sign of a local farm alongside a sign for Lilydale.
The SPCA said Monday evening it is investigating after receiving the video on Friday of workers, including a supervisor, “abusing and torturing” chickens at Elite Farm Services in Chilliwack.
“The images in this video are absolutely sickening and the individual employees and the companies involved need to be held accountable,” said Marcie Moriarty, the BC SPCA’s chief prevention and enforcement officer.
“The video includes some of the most brutal and sadistic acts of violence against animals I have ever seen.”
The chicken-catching service had been hired to round up chickens for transport to the Lilydale/Sofina Foods slaughter plant in Port Coquitlam, the SPCA said in a statement.
The footage was filmed May 10 and June 9. Mercy for Animals created a website, www.chickentorture.ca, where it posted the video of clips edited together, a petition to ask Loblaws to stop sourcing Lilydale Chicken, other allegations against Lilydale, and information on vegan alternatives to poultry.
“Chickens raised for Lilydale have been bred to grow so quickly they frequently become crippled under their own weight,” the site claims. “Unable to walk without extreme pain, many die of dehydration at factory farms when they can’t reach water.”
Mercy for Animals says the latest video follows another one showing turkeys at a Lilydale slaughterhouse violently slammed into metal shackles and otherwise injured while still alive.
“This video shows some of the most sickening animal abuse we’ve ever seen, including workers sadistically tearing live animals limb from limb,” said Krista Hiddema, vice president of Mercy For Animals in Canada, of the latest video.
The SPCA has called on the province’s poultry industry to suspend the workers involved, suspend contracts to the company until the matter is resolved, and review how it monitors how workers treat chickens.
If convicted, the individuals and companies involved face a fine up to $75,000, a maximum five-year jail sentence and a possible lifetime ban on owning or being around animals.
Mercy for Animals has been in the news in recent months because of the high profile videos an undercover worker filmed of cattle being abused at a Chilliwack dairy farm. The owners of Chilliwack Cattle Sales and the company itself were handed fines of $345,000 back in December. More recently, three employees were jailed, one for seven days and two for 60 days.
The final four employees are scheduled to be sentenced in that case in Chilliwack Provincial Court on June 14.