A protest takes place Saturday morning (Nov. 13) at the workplace of one of the co-owners of the dairy farm currently under investigation by the BC SPCA for criminal animal cruelty.
Activists plan to gather at 9 a.m. at the Abbotsford Veterinary Clinic, located at 33648 McDougall Ave., which is where co-owner of Cedar Valley Farms Dr. Rich Vanderwal works.
Those gathering are calling for the closure of the farm and for Vanderwal to have his licence revoked.
The farm had its licence suspended after the BC SPCA received video footage that appears to be depicting serious instances of animal abuse at Cedar Valley Farms in east Abbotsford.
The BC Milk Marketing Board announced on Friday afternoon (Nov. 12) that the licence had been reinstated with mandatory conditions.
Marcie Moriarty, the BC SPCA’s chief prevention and enforcement officer, said the SPCA showed up at the farm unannounced and is now looking through more than 300 video clips. She said some of the images appear to be in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and potentially the Criminal Code of Canada.
Activists believe that video monitoring should be implemented on all commercial farms, and that is the messaging they will be getting out on Saturday.
“We should have CCTV cameras in every farm and slaughterhouse across the country, publicly live-streaming to the internet, but that’s not nearly enough,” said activist Amy Soranno. “When clear evidence of animal cruelty exists, perpetrators … need to face consequences for their actions or nothing will change.”
Vanderwal was the acting veterinarian for Chilliwack Cattle Sales, a dairy farm where undercover video footage in 2014 showed workers whipping, punching, kicking, and beating cows. The company and one director pleaded guilty to abusing their cattle and were handed a total of $300,000 in fines in December 2016.
Vanderwal was also an animal welfare consultant for the Abbotsford Police Department, which was called to the Excelsior Hog Farm in 2019 when a large protest occurred. At that time, Vanderwal told police that animal welfare conditions at the hog farm were being met.
Sorrano is one of four individuals charged with 21 combined counts of break-and-enter and criminal mischief in relation to the protest at the hog farm.. That trial is scheduled to begin in June 2022.
The website for the Abbotsford Veterinary Clinic appears to have been removed, but an archived version of the site states that Vanderwal was raised on a dairy farm and and graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan with his doctor of veterinary medicine with distinction in 1977. He became the principal leader of the clinic in 1991.
Cedar Valley Farms provided a written statement to The Abbotsford News on Tuesday (Nov. 9), saying they are saddened by the recent events and are working with the agencies involved “to get clarity on the facts of the case.”
“Staff on our farms are our responsibility for continuous training and oversight, and if we discover that animals are not treated with dignity and care in all stages of their life, it is on us to correct these wrongs,” they said.