3 men in Chilliwack cattle abuse scandal get jail time

Chris Vandyke, Jamie Visser and Travis Keefer will go to jail after pleading guilty of animal cruelty in April 2017.

Chris Vandyke, Jamie Visser and Travis Keefer sentenced after pleading guilty to animal cruelty

A video released by Mercy For Animals led to an ongoing investigation into animal cruelty taking place at Chilliwack Cattle Sales. (Mercy for Animals)

Three former employees of Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd. have been sentenced to jail time after a drawn-out investigation, going back as far as 2014, into the mistreatment of livestock at the business,

Jamie Visser and Chris Vandyke were sentenced to 60 days in jail and six months probation on Thursday, while Travis Keefer was sentenced to one week in jail.

The three men pleaded guilty to multiple charges of animal cruelty last month.

The investigation stemmed from the release of a video showing Chilliwack Cattle Sales workers beating cattle with whips and hanging them with chains, among other forms of abuse.

The disturbing footage was captured by a whistleblower and released by the animal rights group, Mercy For Animals, in 2014.

"There is no question that justice has truly been served for these egregiously abused animals," said Krista Hiddema, vice president of Mercy For Animals Canada. "We are overjoyed."

The 60 days in jail will be served intermittently for Visser and Vandyke, who are also both prohibited from caring for animals for the next three years. Keefer cannot care for an animal for one year.

Investigation ongoing

The sentencing is the latest chapter in the ongoing investigation into the animal abuses.

In December 2016, Wesley Kooyman, a former director of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, pleaded guilty to causing an animal to continue to be in distress. He was fined $75,000 and prohibited from being a director of Chilliwack Cattle Sales for one year.

Several other former employees still face various charges related to the investigation, including Jonathan Talbot, Cody Larson, Brad Genereux and Lloyd Blackwell. Their trial is scheduled to begin May 29.

Hiddema hopes the rulings will lead to improved conditions for livestock in B.C. and the rest of Canada.

"This sends the clearest message to the factory farming industry that animal abuse will simply not be tolerated."