Join us at The Chilliwack Progress as we take our readers on a thoughtful trip down memory lane. Our Top Stories will recap the most significant news events, milestones and emerging themes that have shaped Chilliwack in 2016. It was undeniably a notable year, from an unprecedented spike in homelessness, to major development news, to the community revealing its keen interest in crime and politics, and a most caring heart.
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It was graphic footage from a Chilliwack dairy farm that shocked the world.
Cruelty charges came down in the wake an undercover Mercy for Animals (MFA) video from June 2014 shot at the Kooyman farm owned by Chilliwack Cattle Sales. It showed workers kicking, punching, and beating cows with chains, pipes, canes, and rakes.
CCS and its owner pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals in a Chilliwack courtroom in mid-December in what was called a landmark case.
Chilliwack Cattle Sales owner Wesley Kooyman, in a statement on behalf of the Kooyman family, said he accepted the judgement of the Court.
Chilliwack Cattle Sales and its owners are facing $300,000 in fines, with three charges for the company and one for the CCS owner, prohibited from owning cattle for a year. There was also about $50,000 in victim surcharges.
“We vow to do everything we can to prevent anything like this from happening again,” Kooyman said recently in reaction to fines and proceedings.
MFA labelled it a landmark ruling and the first time any factory farm or its owners were handed an animal cruelty conviction for the actions of their employees.
MFA reps are questioning the dairy industry’s capacity of self-regulation.
“We need stronger laws and more oversight to protect farmed animals from needless cruelty and violence,” said Mercy For Animals president Nathan Runkle. “Giving the Dairy Code of Practice the force of law in every province would be a much-needed first step toward ensuring the sadistic animal abuse we uncovered in Chilliwack never happens again.”
That kind of oversight is exactly what the local dairy farm family is promising.
“Animal care is of primary importance on our farm and the shocking events that we became aware of in June 2014 were a wake-up call for our company,” said Kooyman.
Better training and supervision of dairy farm workers are in the works.
Remedial actions taken at CCS include 24-hour barn monitoring, and revised protocols and training for workers.