Warning: The above video contains graphic footage.
Twenty charges of animal cruelty have been laid against a B.C. dairy farm and several employees, two years after a graphic undercover video of alleged abuse was given to the SPCA.
Six employees are each charged with causing distress to an animal, and failing to care for and protect an animal under the Protection of Cruelty to Animals Act, the society said in a media release Tuesday.
Four workers face an additional two charges related to lifting a cow by a chain, as well as kicking and hitting the animal.
Footage of the alleged incidents was collected using secret cameras as part of an undercover operation conducted by the animal-rights activist group Mercy For Animals.
The video, which made headlines across Canada, shows cows being punched, whipped and beaten with rods.
In one instance, one of the animals is hoisted up by a forklift from a chain wrapped around its neck and dragged out of its pen as a worker shouts, "Leave her like that."
Video was 'horrifying'
The farm's owner, Jeff Kooyman, said at the time the video was "horrifying to watch," while the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) called it one of the worst cases of farm-animal cruelty in Canadian history.
Kooyman and four other co-owners have each been charged with causing or permitting animals to be in distress.
The BC SPCA recommended charges in June 2014.
On Tuesday, Crown said the 20-month prosecution delay was "due to a variety of factors," including the number of potential perpetrators and "complexity" in assessing the evidence.
The SPCA said its happy to see action being taken.
“We are extremely pleased that in addition to laying charges against the individual employees, Crown has also held the company and its directors accountable for this unacceptable treatment of the animals,” said Marcie Moriarty, the society's chief prevention and enforcement officer, in the release.
Those charged under the PCA act face a fine of up to $75,000, two years in jail, and a lifetime ban on owning an animal.
Employees convicted under the Wildlife Act for the first time could face a maximum fine of $100,000 or a up to a year in prison.
With files from The Canadian Press
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