British Columbia

Chilliwack Cattle Sales cruelty investigation leads to guilty pleas

Travis Keefer, James Visser and Chris Vandyke have pleaded guilty to several charges after an animal cruelty investigation at Chilliwack Cattle Sales.

An undercover video released by Mercy for Animals shows dairy cows being whipped and beaten

Three former employees of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, one of Canada's largest dairy farms, have pleaded guilty to a number of animal cruelty charges. (Mercy for Animals)

Three former employees of Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd. have pleaded guilty to several charges, after a drawn-out investigation into the mistreatment of livestock at the business, going back as far as 2014.

Travis Keefer, James Visser and Chris Vandyke pleaded guilty to two counts each under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and one count each under the Wildlife Act.

The mistreatment of cattle at the business was revealed in a secretly recorded video, released by the non-profit group Mercy for Animals Canada. The disturbing video — shot by a former employee of the farm — shows dairy cows being whipped and beaten with chains and canes, as well as punched and kicked.

On Apr. 13, Keefer, Visser, and Vandyke each pleaded guilty to causing an animal to continue to be in distress, failing to care for animals — including protecting animals from circumstances that were likely to cause the animals to be in distress — and molesting a bird, specifically, a pigeon.

In December, 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.

The judge in the case is scheduled to hand down sentences to Keefer, Visser and Vandyke on May 18.