Column: Stronger rules needed for standards of care for animals

The Code sets standards for housing, feed, health and welfare, husbandry practices, transportation and humane euthanasia

The appalling abuse of dairy cattle by a few employees at Chilliwack Cattle Sales has rightly generated a storm of backlash against not only the dairy farm but the processing company Saputo which receives milk produced by Canada’s largest dairy farm.

The abuse surfaced last week when a video taken by a representative of Mercy for Animals Canada working undercover at the farm showed horrendous abuse and cruelty. Cows were documented with open wounds, being beaten with chains and rakes, their udders punched and being mechanically hoisted by their necks. The video sent shockwaves and disgust through the dairy farm industry.

Within days of the video’s release, Mercy for Animals put up a petition on calling for the milk processing company Montreal-based Saputo, which produces Dairyland products, to take action. Already nearly 100,000 people have signed that petition.

Saputo has jumped ahead of that curve, stating that it would no longer receive milk from the farm. Saputo does not own dairy farms but processes the milk pooled by the BC Milk Marketing Board which stated in an Industry Notice last Tuesday that any milk from Chilliwack Cattle Sales will be destroyed.

Stakeholders in the dairy industry have been sent scrambling, distancing themselves from the awful images. And it is fair comment that this act of cruelty is an anomaly among Canada’s dairy farmers.

The BC SPCA has already recommended charges of animal cruelty against the eight employees identified in the video.

“The images in the undercover video are extremely disturbing and highlight an urgent need for better standards to protect farm animals in B.C. from abuse and neglect,” said Marcie Moriarty, BC SPCA chief prevention and enforcement officer.

In 2009, the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle was published but it has yet to be adopted into B.C. law. The BC SPCA recommends that the Canadian Codes of Practice, which set out minimum standards of care for farm animal species, be incorporated into the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act so that standards can be enforced.

The history behind the Codes of Practice began in 1980 when the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies coordinated the process of developing standards. It was taken up by the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council from 1993-2003. In 2005 the National Farm Animal Care Council was launched which continued consultations leading to an updated Code development process finalized in 2009 for dairy cows.

The Code sets standards for housing, feed, health and welfare, husbandry practices, transportation and humane euthanasia. It addresses animal needs such as companionship, shelter, freedom of movement, calf management, veterinary care, disease control and prevention, and emergency preparedness. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have all adopted the Codes into their provincial legislation.

The BC SPCA is committed to working with the B.C. government, the BC Dairy Association and other industry organizations to ensure the safe, humane treatment of farm animals while supporting the viability of B.C. producers. Humane treatment of farm animals resonates very strongly with the public.

“The provincial government has been hesitant to regulate the farm industry,” she said. “But once this video came out we have been having favourable discussions about it and it has become a priority for them. It is important that producers have clear expectations around standards of care for farm animals and that there is a system in place to monitor and enforce these standards.”

On their website, Saputo supported the recommendation of the BC SPCA that the Code of Practice for dairy cattle be adopted into B.C. law and urged the BC Milk Marketing Board and other BC authorities to get behind the recommendation.

It’s long overdue.

Just Posted

RCMP’s auto theft team nabs Chilliwack suspect

Kao Daniel Macaulay, well-known to police, arrested in stolen red Honda on March 20

UPDATE: Man with gunshot wound drives into ditch on Chilliwack River Road

Serious crimes investigators believe early morning shooting to be targeted

WATCH: Rally at MP’s office Friday in Chilliwack to stop KM pipeline

Water samples from Chilliwack rivers were delivered to MP Strahl’s office in a symbolic gesture

No red flags in expense audit, says former Fraser Health boss who fired Murray

Wynne Powell said report showed need for tighter rules, but didn’t suggest abuse of expense claims

Garrison store going to new heights for children’s charity

Save-On Foods employees raising cash for BC Children’s Hospital, by throwing managers from airplane

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

VIDEO: Hockey tournament remembers young fan

Hundreds take part in annual Jordan Owens memorial in Lower Mainland

Canadian cities hold March for our Lives events in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of people support the massive March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

Health officials called after acid spill near B.C.-Alberta border leaks into creek

Tanker truck crashed south of Dawson Creek, spilling 17,000 litres of hydrochloric acid

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in B.C. before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Kelowna’s Prospera Place

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

Most Read