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Canadian company investigated for ‘sickening’ abuse of chickens

An unidentified worker at a factory chicken farm in the Vancouver, B.C. area shoves chickens into a crate for shipping in this screen grab from a Mercy for Animals video.
An unidentified worker at a factory chicken farm in the Vancouver, B.C. area shoves chickens into a crate for shipping in this screen grab from a Mercy for Animals video. YouTube | Mercy for Animals

A British Columbia poultry company is under investigation for what officials call the “absolutely sickening” allegations of animal abuse at a facility in the Fraser Valley.

In a video released Tuesday by the nonprofit animal advocacy group Mercy For Animals, workers are shown throwing the birds against a wall, stuffing them into crates and simulating sex acts with them. Some of the birds are shown flopping on the ground with injuries; others have their limbs torn off by workers.

“(It’s) some of the worst – and I don’t say that lightly this time – animal cruelty and abuse that I’ve seen in some time,” B.C. SPCA spokeswoman Marcie Moriarty told the CBC.

The video was shot by an undercover volunteer for Mercy for Animals at a processing facility in Port Coquitlam, B.C., about 40 miles north of Blaine. The worker filmed employees between May 10 and June 9, according to the Vancouver Province.

“The abuse started pretty much immediately after the whistleblower started working at this facility,” said Lindsay Wolf, vice president of investigations for Mercy for Animals, during a teleconference Tuesday morning.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Moriarty said the SPCA plans to recommend multiple charges of animal cruelty. If convicted, individuals could face a fine up to $75,000, a maximum five-year prison sentence and a possible lifetime ban from owning or being around animals.

She said the workers were hired to gather chickens for transport to a slaughter plant in Port Coquitlam owned by Lilydale, a poultry company and subsidiary of Sofina Foods Inc. Lilydale is one of Canada’s largest poultry producers.

In a statement, Sofina officials said they were “appalled and extremely shocked” at the video content and asked the supplier, Elite Farm Services, to immediately dismiss the workers involved.

On Tuesday, Elite Farm Services announced in a statement it had fired five workers and one supervisor in response to the investigation.

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