WARNING: This story includes graphic details that readers may find distressing
An animal welfare agency has filed a legal complaint against a Pitt Meadows meat processing plant after receiving a video that allegedly shows multiple acts of animal cruelty at the slaughterhouse.
Animal Justice has filed their complaint with the BC SPCA, the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food Meat Inspection Program, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, asking that the organizations investigate Meadow Valley Meats along Ford Road for their alleged ongoing violations of the BC Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the Food Safety Act, Meat Inspection Regulation, and the federal Health of Animals Regulations.
In the video that was confidentially sent to the animal welfare group, sheep were forced into an overcrowded chute and hit with paddles and cows were hit in the face with canes and electric prods.
The video also shows a cow pinned to the ground under the weight of two other cows, and a bolt gun, used to render cows unconscious before they are killed, has to be used multiple times on animals that remain conscious.
One cow in the video attempts to get back up again after the bolt gun was used on it.
Temple Grandin, American activist for the humane treatment of livestock, who is shown watching the video, immediately notes the stun is bad and says the worker should have immediately re-shot the stun, mentioning the worker’s lack of training.
Children can also be seen in the video watching as cows are bolted and killed.
Once an animal is bolted, a door opens and it falls onto what is called a kill floor, where the animal’s neck is slit open to let the contents of the animal drain. It is illegal to slice into a conscious animal.
“But cows were regularly found conscious on the kill floor,” claimed the video’s narrator.
The same was said of goats and sheep, that many were still conscious after the bolt gun was used but were still dragged to the kill floor.
Executive director of Animal Justice, Camille Labchuk, said it’s pretty shocking video, since this company pleaded guilty in 2015 to knowingly selling E. coli contaminated beef, and two of the directors of the company are linked to Chilliwack Cattle Sales, which was involved in one of the largest animal cruelty cases in Canadian history.
“So it’s really troubling that government authorities don’t seem to have done anything to stop this from happening,” said the Toronto-based animal rights lawyer.
She also added that there are B.C. meat inspectors in the slaughterhouse every single day by law, who inspect carcasses after the animals have been slaughtered, and they also inspect animals before they go to slaughter.
Apparently, she said, they don’t spend any time monitoring the slaughter itself.
Provincial meat inspection regulations say animals cannot be abused before they are killed. Nor can an animal be cut into on the kill floor if it is showing any signs of consciousness, noted Labchuk.
“Workers have an obligation to ensure that those animals cannot feel pain when they are sliced into,” she said.
“What we saw over and over again at Meadow Valley Meats is animals being improperly stunned. So sometimes they would have to be stunned multiple times before it works. We saw examples of probably poor training. We saw a stun gun actually get stuck in the skull of at least one cow,” said Labchuk.
Even more troubling, there were animals in the video who were still conscious on the kill floor who were cut into – one cow trying to raise their head up after they had been cut open and other animals that were still blinking, she added.
The video, said Labchuk, was shot during the summer of 2022 and a USB storage device containing the video was sent to the group by mail.
A statement put out by Meadow Valley Meats say they are “fully cooperating in this investigation” by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and BC Meat Inspection, who are currently reviewing the footage.
“We have not had the opportunity to review the full video, but are conducting an internal audit of our humane handling practices at this point. Once we receive the full video, we will forwarding this for audit by an independent Canadian expert in animal welfare at slaughter,” read the statement.
“We are committed to implementing improvements to ensure that the welfare of animals continues to be a priority,” the meat processing company said.
Labchuk noted that there is a desire by the public to be more aware of where their meat is coming from, and to buy local and more humane. Meadow Valley Meats, is a company that is provincially licensed, so they can only sell within B.C. and can’t sell outside the province or country. The company markets themselves as tending to happy cows that are humanely and ethically raised, she said, and is an example of what people think of as a small, local, humane slaughterhouse.
People look for places like these to buy from because they expect the animals are actually treated better, noted Labchuk.
“This video, to me, proves that’s not the case and that slaughterhouses are universally terrible places for animals.”
Currently no rulings have been drawn, nor reports made by the government agencies investigating the video.
• The News has reached out to the BC SPCA for comment
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