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article imageThree B.C. dairy farm workers jailed for physically abusing cows

By Arthur Weinreb     May 19, 2017 in Crime
Chilliwack - Three B.C. dairy farm workers received jail sentences ranging from seven to 60 days after undercover videos showed them physically abusing cows and a bird. The dairy farm and its owner were previously fined for allowing animals to continue in distress.
The three young men were sentenced by B.C. Provincial Court Judge Gary Cohen sitting in Chilliwack. They had earlier pleaded guilty to a total of 18 counts of animal cruelty and three counts of molesting a bird.
Travis Keeper, whose role was determined to have been lesser than the other two, was sentenced to seven days in jail. In addition, he is prohibited from owning or handling an animal for one year. Chris Vandyke and James Vasser each received jail sentences of 60 days and are forbidden from owning or handling animals for three years. In sentencing the men, Cohn referred to what they had done as “reprehensible.”
The three men are allowed to serve their sentences intermittently on weekends so they will not lose their current jobs.
The animal abuse came to light back in 2014. A member of the animal rights group, Mercy for Animals, managed to obtain employment with Canada’s largest dairy farm, Chilliwack Cattle Sales. Working the night shift, the member recorded undercover videos of what was going on.
Video was recorded between Apr. 30 and June 1, 2014. The videos showed cows being punched, kicked and otherwise abused by the three. The assaults were accompanied by cheers by the three men who seemed to enjoy what they were doing. On a tape, Vandyke is heard saying, “I f*****g hit that cow like 50 times” whereas Vasser can be heard exclaiming "This is more fun than milking."
At a sentencing hearing held on Apr. 14, Craig Sicotte, lawyer for the three men, told the court the company was at fault for hiring teenagers and giving them little or no training and supervision. Last December, company president Kenneth Kooyman pleaded guilty to three counts of animal cruelty on behalf of Chilliwack Cattle Sales. His brother Wesley pleaded guilty personally to one count of animal cruelty. Wesley had visited the barns during the midnight shift but never did anything to stop the abuse. The brothers were fined a total of $300,000 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of $45,000.
Marcie Moriarity, of the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, called the case “absolutely precedent setting.” She said convictions for cruelty to farm animals are exceedingly rare and she believes this is the first time in Canada that a company has been held responsible for cruelty to animals committed by their employees.
Four other dairy farm workers are scheduled to go to trial at the end of the month on 13 charges of animal cruelty.
More about dairy farm workers, Animal cruelty, bc spca, Mercy for Animals, undercover video
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