British Columbia

Some workers to wear body cameras in barns after video showed alleged chicken abuse

B.C. company said recordings will be reviewed at the end of each day and held for 14 days

CBC News

June 15, 2017

An undercover video shot by the non-profit animal advocacy group Mercy for Animals depicts several scenes of animal abuse that allegedly took place in Chilliwack, B.C. (Mercy for Animals)

Some workers with a B.C. company will now have to wear body cameras in barns after disturbing video was posted online that appears to show chickens being abused, according to Elite Services.

The Chilliwack-based company, which is responsible for catching chickens at farms in the Fraser Valley, said at least one supervisor and two employees will wear safety vest-mounted cameras at all times in each barn. 

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"It is our hope that the senseless acts of violence that were perpetrated in the video will be a catalyst to implement new elevated levels of animal care, not just at Elite Services, but industry wide," said president Dwayne Dueck in a statement.

"It is our intent to share the experience of our new best practices with industry regulators, and adopt other best practices from cutting edge producers."

Recordings will be reviewed at the end of each day and held for 14 days.

The statement said the company has also updated orientation requirements and workplace procedures.

Elite Services also changed its story about the firings after the video, shot by the non-profit animal advocacy group Mercy for Animals, was released Monday.

While the company initially reported five employees had been fired, it now says two of the five had already been fired before the video's release.

Another person has also been fired "after a detailed forensic review of the video."

An example of the safety vest-mounted camera system that some workers with B.C.-based Elite Services will now be wearing. (Elite Services)

SPCA says move a good start

Marcie Moriarty, the B.C. SPCA's chief prevention and enforcement officer, said she was "surprised and pleased" that that Elite Services will now outfit some workers with cameras.

"I think it will go a long way towards regaining some faith in how these chickens are handled," she said.

"I think it will be very important to see how they implement that policy, and who's reviewing those tapes and what their commitment is should they witness something inappropriate."

Moriarty said she's never heard of any other company implementing such a policy, although she said that slaughterhouses in France are required to have security cameras.

But Geoff Urton, an animal welfare specialist at the SPCA, said while cameras are good for accountability, it doesn't get to the real problem.

"Why are these people abusing these animals in the first place? ... There's a fundamental disrespect for animals," he said.

"These workers need to see that these are living things that are capable of suffering. And that's not always the case."

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