VANCOUVER — The SPCA is investigating an egg farm and a chicken-catching service in British Columbia following reports of alleged neglect and cruelty.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has released video footage that it said shows "horrific neglect and filthy conditions" at facilities in the Fraser Valley, allegedly including hens stuck in mounds of feces and packed into wire cages with dead birds.
Marcie Moriarty with the provincial SPCA said investigators will examine the claims of animal cruelty involving Jaedel Enterprises in Abbotsford, B.C., and chicken-catching service Elite Services, which loads birds onto crates for processing.
"We're looking at the situations that resulted in these animals being in distress," she said.
Elite Services did not respond to requests for comment and Jaedel Enterprises referred all questions to the Egg Farmers of Canada.
The Egg Farmers of Canada has zero tolerance for animal abuse, said the group's chairman Roger Pelissero.
"By no means do we tolerate any animal mistreatment. Care of our hens is a top priority. And we take this allegation very seriously," he said.
The group has launched third-party audits of the farms where the footage was allegedly shot and eggs from those facilities will be held back from stores until the investigations are complete, Pelissero said.
Same company fired workers last year
The SPCA previously recommended that charges be laid against Elite Services after video emerged last year allegedly showing workers throwing, hitting and dismembering chickens.
Following the video release, Elite Services said six staff members had been fired and some remaining employees would be required to wear body cameras while on duty.
"It is our intent to share the experience of our new best practices with industry regulators, and adopt other best practices from cutting-edge producers," the company said in a statement last June.
Moriarty said the SPCA is disappointed to be investigating the same company again, especially so soon.
The industry should push for minimum standards of care to be included in legislation aimed at preventing cruelty to animals, she said.
Changes may be necessary and the Egg Farmers of Canada will look at having that discussion with its members once investigations are complete, Pelissero said.
"Producing food for Canadians is a privilege for us as egg farmers and we want to maintain consumer confidence," he said.
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