Jail time has been handed down to three men today who were caught on video abusing dairy cows at a Chilliwack farm in 2014.
They were seen in an undercover video that showed cows being beaten at Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd.
The footage was collected using secret cameras as part of an undercover operation conducted by the animal-rights activist group Mercy For Animals.
Former employee Travis Keefer was given seven days in jail and cannot be in care or control of any animals for one year. The two other defendants, Chris Vandyke and Jamie Visser, both received 60 days in jail and cannot be in care or control of any animals for three years.
The judge said the sentences will be served on weekends so they will still be able to maintain their jobs.
Twenty counts of animal cruelty were laid against Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd., with 16 falling under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The BC SPCA said it received the undercover video in June 2014 showing dairy cows being beaten with chains, canes and rakes. The footage also showed cows being kicked and punched after they were trapped and could not escape the abuse.
The B.C. SPCA said the case marks the first time a B.C. company has been held accountable for acts of animal cruelty on a farm.
“The judge didn’t have any prior cases to give him a lot of guidance for something like this,” said criminal defence lawyer Craig Sicotte. “So he put a lot of thought into it and gave a sentence that obviously my three clients aren’t thrilled with, they have to go to jail, but I think, at the end of the day, this will set the tone for a lot of sentences like this.”
When the sentences were handed out there was a lot of emotion from the suspects’ family members.
“I don’t think any of the family members are thrilled to see these three young men go off to custody,” said Sicotte. “These are young men from good families, they have jobs, they have a lot of support.”
The judge did agree the three men were not properly trained or supervised.
Last December, president of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, Kenneth Kooyman, pleaded guilty to three charges of animal cruelty. His brother, who is a director at the facility, pleaded guilty to one charge. They were fined $300,000 total along with another $45,000 to help fund victim services.