Animal rights group urges SPCA to investigate cruelty allegations
Published Monday, April 21, 2014 12:51PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 21, 2014 8:57PM EDT
An animal rights group is urging the federal and provincial governments to change laws regarding cruelty to farm animals.
On Saturday, CTV's W5 reported on disturbing images of animal mistreatment inside a veal farm in Pont-Rouge near Quebec City.
The video shows calves being kicked, punched and confined to tiny wooden crates for the entirety of their lives.
The group that shot the video, Mercy for Animals, said 800 calves at the farm, which is affiliated with Delimax Veal, one of the largest veal producers in North American, are frequently subjected to harsh treatment, which it pointed out is legal.
Stephane Perrais of Mercy for Animals says farming is self-regulated, and so there are no penalties if employees of an industrial farming corporation violate the “Code of Practice for the care and handling of veal calves,” which provides guidelines on how to treat animals, but is not a legally binding document.
The organization has handed over its findings to the SPCA, urging it to investigate, since they're the ones with the legal power to do so.
“We're asking for charges to be pursued against the company, its owners and its employees and they're currently doing an investigation,” he said.
The group is also calling on the Retail Association of Canada to pressure meat producers to change the rules, and encourage better treatment of animals.
"This type of cruelty is endemic and systemic to the whole industrial farm system. This is not random, this is representative of what happens behind closed doors," said Perrais.
Quebec produces 80 per cent of the milk-fed calves in Canada. There are 120 veal operations in Quebec that use wooden crates, about 75 per cent of all the barns in the province.
The hidden camera footage was shown to Fabien Fontaine, a member of the Quebec Veal Association and the owner of Delimax Veal.
Delimax delivers the calves to the Pont Rouge barn and picks them up to bring them to the slaughter house. Delimax drivers also deliver the milk by-products to the barn to feed the calves.
Fontaine pointed out that Delimax does not own the Pont Rouge operation.
He also noted that the future for milk-fed veal calves in Quebec will soon be much more humane.
Fontaine took W5 on a tour of a Delimax veal operation near Drummondville. There, calves are raised in group pens allowing them to mingle with each other and giving them a little more room to move around.
Veal crates are banned in Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and in eight U.S. states. The organization is calling on the Canadian government to also ban the practice.
The Quebec Veal Association says it already has a plan to modernize their farms by 2018, and that will include eliminating the tiny crates the calves live in.
But the industry will remain self-regulated, and individual farmers won't be bound by their association's decisions.
Perrais says banning the crates would at least improve the animals’ living conditions in the short term, and that more training for the employees is needed.
-- with files from CTVNews.ca