One more of the seven men caught on undercover video abusing cows at a Chilliwack dairy farm is off to jail.
Cody Larson was sentenced to 20 days jail and given a $4,000 fine after a joint submission by Crown and defence in Chilliwack provincial court on June 28. He is also banned from owning or caring for large animals for one year. His jail sentence will be served on weekends.
Larson and Lloyd Blackwell were both in court for sentencing in the high profile case that has received international attention. They had previously pleaded guilty to animal cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) act.
Blackwell was given a $7,000 fine, a three-year ban on caring for animals and no jail time, also a joint submission. The lighter sentence is because Blackwell was not involved in any of the direct abuse, but in one video clip was driving a tractor that lifted a downed cow up by a neck with a chain.
Larson was involved in 10 incidents of abuse caught on video and audio shot by an undercover employee working for animal rights activist group Mercy for Animals (MFA) in 2014.
During the sentencing hearing on June 15, video of some of the abuse was played in court. In one clip, after Larson hits a downed cow several times with a cane and throws feces in its face, other workers get a tractor to move the animal.
Larson is heard to suggest dragging the cow by its leg, and the MFA employee, “Matthew,” is heard to say: “That’s not going to pull the leg off or something?”
Larson’s reply: “It’s not my leg.”
The incidents occurred at Chilliwack Cattle Sales, Canada’s largest dairy farm. The company and one director were also charged in the case. They pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay $345,000 in fines in December.
When asked by the judge if he had anything to say, Larson first thanked the judge for his time.
“I’m really sorry,” he said. “I’ve learned my lesson.”
Blackwell said only, “I’m sorry.”
After the sentencing, Mercy for Animals Canada vice-president Krista Hiddema called on all provinces to incorporate the Dairy Code of Practice into their provincial animal cruelty legislation
“There is no excuse for animal abuse,” she said in a statement. “The best way to address animal cruelty is to prevent it. We’re asking all Canadian provinces to create a united front against abuse in the dairy industry. Cruelty and neglect will plague Canada’s farms until the Dairy Code of Practice is given the force of law in every province.”
On May 18, three other men, Travis Keefer, Chris Vandyke and Jamie Visser, were sentenced by Judge Gary Cohen. He handed Keefer seven days in jail, and Vandyke and Visser 60 days to be served on weekends.
Crown is appealing that sentence, telling the court it is satisfied there were errors of law and the public interest requires an appeal. The allegation is that the sentencing judge put too much emphasis on how many seconds each instance of abuse lasted rather than the sheer number of instances.
During the sentencing hearing it was noted that there was very little by way of useful precedent in Canadian legal history.
There are still two more men set to be sentenced in the case. A date has not yet been set for Brad Genereux, the third of the three to plead guilty on June 15. Crown is asking for 60 to 90 days in jail and there is no joint submission.
A fourth man, Jonathan Talbot, is next due in court Sept. 6 for sentencing.