Chilliwack man and 2 companies facing 38 charges in 2017 chicken abuse case

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has laid 38 charges against a man from Chilliwack, B.C., and two companies over allegations of undue suffering to chickens.

Elite Farm Services of Chilliwack fired 5 workers after release of video footage

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)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has laid 38 charges against a man from Chilliwack, B.C., and two companies over allegations of undue suffering to chickens.

The agency alleges that Dwayne Dueck, Elite Farm Services Ltd. and Sofina Foods Inc. unlawfully harmed chickens during a loading or unloading process.

The charges were laid under the Health of Animals Regulations, which say no person shall beat an animal being loaded or unloaded in a way likely to cause injury or undue suffering.

Marcie Moriarty of the British Columbia SPCA said in June that its investigators were examining claims of animal cruelty involving Elite Services following the release of video footage allegedly showing hens stuck in mounds of feces and packed into wire cages with dead birds.

Dueck, who is president of Elite Farm Services, which loads birds into crates for processing, wasn't immediately available for comment, but in June he said the footage "sickened" him and the company took "immediate corrective action."

Sofina Foods could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

Dueck and representatives for the companies are expected to appear in a Chilliwack court Dec. 18.

Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society said in an interview he believes the charges are significant because the allegations have been made against companies that are responsible for the treatment of animals in their care.

"It may be a wake-up call to the animal agriculture industry in B.C. and perhaps across Canada," he said.