Fraser Valley, BC fined $ 300,000 in chicken abuse case

Disclaimer: This article contains details that some readers may find disturbing.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines were imposed on two food companies operating in the Fraser Valley after the two pleaded guilty to animal cruelty.

A sentencing decision released Wednesday said Elite Farm Services and Sofina Foods Inc. had pleaded guilty to allegations that chickens had been loaded “in a manner likely to cause injury or undue suffering.” Following the guilty pleas, the two companies were fined $ 300,000 on two counts.

In 2018, 38 charges were laid against Sofina, Elite and its owner, Dwayne Paul Dueck, following an investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Sofina, which sells chicken under the Lilydale brand, hired Elite to catch the poultry.

The investigation was sparked after animal activists released a secret video in 2017 that allegedly captured farm workers mistreating chickens, slamming them against crates and even tearing off the leg of a living bird.

Madam Justice Martha Devlin explained in her ruling that Joshua Latawiec was employed as a chicken catcher for Elite while volunteering for the non-profit organization Mercy for Animals. Lataweic worked on the farm for a few weeks, taking notes and capturing videos.

One charge, stemming from actions filed near Chilliwack between May 10 and June 7, 2017, claims workers were recorded kicking, dropping, throwing and “tormenting” birds . The harmful acts list also indicates that employees were seen “bowling with birds”.

The court heard similar actions were recorded between May 10 and June 7, 2017, at a farm near Abbotsford.

CTV News Vancouver has contacted Elite and Sofina for comment, but has so far received no response. Devlin, however, wrote in his ruling that the owner of Elite and the senior vice president of Sofina have both apologized for the events.

“Mr. Dueck acknowledges that his company has failed to ensure the high standards expected by the public in the treatment of other living things. Mr. Dueck apologized for the misconduct of his employees and the failure of his company to properly oversee operations, ”Devlin wrote. . “I found his sincere apologies, as well as his continued commitment to ensuring high standards of animal welfare.”

Devlin also said that Phil Holjack, Senior Vice President of Sofina, “has accepted responsibility for the actions of Sofina and has apologized for these events.”

In addition to the fines, the two companies were given three years probation. Both companies must submit their training materials to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and will be subject to random spot checks.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Maria Weisgarber

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