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Court hears guilty pleas in cattle abuse case in B.C.'s Fraser Valley

Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd.

A company that owns a dairy farm in British Columbia's Fraser Valley and one of its directors have pleaded guilty in a cattle abuse case that was the first of its kind in the province.

Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd. pleaded guilty to three counts of causing an animal to continue to be in distress, while Wesley Kooyman pleaded guilty to one count.

The Crown and defence made a joint submission for penalties to the court, which included a fine of $225,000 for the company and $75,000 for Kooyman, as well as prohibiting the man from owning or having custody of dairy cattle for one year.

Twenty charges were originally laid against the company and seven of its employees following an undercover video investigation by an animal-welfare group, and the SPCA said it was the first time a B.C. company has been held accountable for acts of cruelty on a farm.

The video shot by a Mercy for Animals employee was played at the court hearing on Friday and showed employees kicking and punching cows, beating them with canes and lifting a cow by a chain around her neck.

Crown lawyer James MacAuley told the judge that had the company followed the Dairy Farmers of Canada codes of practice that outline humane handling of cattle, the abuse would have been avoided.

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