Former Chilliwack dairy workers sentenced to jail for animal cruelty

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      Three former employees at Canada’s largest dairy farm are going to jail for abusing animals, according to an animal rights group.

      Jamie Visser, Chris Vandyke, and Travis Keefer were sentenced to prison Thursday (May 18) after a 2014 hidden camera investigation at Chilliwack Cattle Sales, Mercy for Animals announced in a media release.

      A member of the group got a job with the company, and wore a camera to work.

      According to the media release, the punishment marks the first time workers at a Canadian factory farm have been jailed for animal cruelty.

      Mercy for Animals stated in the release that Visser, Vandyke, and Keefer were sentenced to jail for violating the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and the Wildlife Act.

      Visser and Vandyke will spend 60 days in prison. They are banned from having an animal for three years.

      Keefer was sentenced to seven days. He is to stay away from animals for a year.

      “The defendants pleaded guilty to a total of 18 counts of animal cruelty and three counts of molesting a bird,” Mercy for Animals stated in the release.

      The group recalled that last December, Chilliwack Cattle Sales and one of its owners were convicted of animal cruelty, and ordered to pay fines of nearly $350,000.

      The group also noted that four other workers were charged. Their cases will go trial this month.

      "Animal abuse runs rampant in Canadian factory farms, and the dairy industry is no exception,” Krista Hiddema, vice president for Mercy For Animals in Canada, said in the media release.

      “This isn’t a case of ‘bad apples,’ but a rotten tree,” Hiddema continued. “This case graphically illustrates the need for lawmakers to protect vulnerable farmed animals from extreme cruelty by giving the Dairy Code of Practice the force of law in every province.”

      The video captured employees punching and kicking cows. They also struck animals with canes and chains.

      The video also showed a tractor lifting a cow by a chain around the animal's neck.

      An employee at the dairy was seen fastening cow milking equipment to the testicles of bulls.

      Workers can be heard cheering and laughing in the video.