Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Animal cruelty case put over to November

August 15, 2014 By Gordon Paul The Record (Waterloo)

An Ottawa lawyer known for arguing that the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has too much power is representing a Kitchener-based turkey breeder charged with animal cruelty.

Kurtis Andrews says in an application to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is unconstitutional. He argues the act breaches the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by "granting police powers to a private organization without due restraints, accountability and transparency."

Andrews is the lawyer for Kitchener-based Hybrid Turkeys. The company and five of its employees face a total of 11 animal cruelty charges. The workers are represented by Kitchener employment lawyer Pamela Krauss.

The charges were laid after an undercover video shot by Toronto-based animal rights group Mercy for Animals Canada caught workers trying to euthanize turkeys by clubbing, kicking and swinging a shovel at them.

The video was shot in a Hybrid barn in Bright, Ont. The charges were laid by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The case was in Woodstock court on Wednesday but was put over for more than three months.

"The Crown only received disclosure (i.e. the package of evidence) from the OSPCA yesterday, so they asked for and received an adjournment until Nov. 20 to give everyone a chance to go over everything," Anna Pippus, director of legal advocacy for Mercy for Animals Canada, said in an email Wednesday.

Hybrid, listed in court documents as Hendrix Genetics Ltd., the Netherlands-based parent company, is charged with four counts of animal cruelty. Employees facing two counts each are John Burnard and Kevin Schenk. Facing one count each are William LeBlanc, Ryan Barnes and Matthew Brethour.

On the website fixthelaw.ca, Andrews argues the OSPCA Act may breach the Charter by "incorporating a definition of 'distress' which is unconstitutionally vague and /or overbroad." He goes on to say the act may also breach the Charter by authorizing "unreasonable searches of people's homes, farms and seizures of their animals without judicial authorization or oversight."

Andrews maintains his court application is not designed to undermine the protection of animals. "On the contrary, if this application is successful, it is expected that the law will be changed to ensure that animals are better protected in a manner expected by Ontario residents."

Pippus of Mercy for Animals has said the Hybrid case represents the first time in Canadian history that an undercover investigation by an animal protection group led to animal cruelty charges.

The charges are:

• Four counts of causing distress by killing an animal in a manner that caused suffering

• Three counts of permitting distress

• Two counts of failing to kill an animal by a method that is humane and minimizes pain and distress

• One count of failing to provide adequate and appropriate medical attention

• One count of failing to provide care necessary for animals' general welfare.

Penalties for workers can be up to two years in jail, said Scott Sylvia, an inspector with the agency's investigations section. The company could face fines of up to $60,000. When the video appeared, Hybrid suspended four employees and later fired one of them.

Hybrid is one of the world's largest turkey breeders. It has 200 employees, 50 barns and 11 farms. The company produces about 60 per cent of the 21 million turkeys raised and killed for food each year in Canada.

August 25, 2015 update: A year after CBC's Marketplace first exposed the shocking treatment of birds at an Ontario turkey breeder, the case against the company for animal cruelty has ended in a guilty plea. After the Marketplace story aired, OSPCA laid 11 charges against both the company and individual employees.

"After a thorough investigation it was determined that the method of euthanasia was not humane," OSPCA spokesperson Alison Cross wrote in an email. The company was fined $5,600. Under the terms of the company's guilty plea, the remaining charges have been withdrawn, according to Cross. (Source: CBC News)

Comment: A perversion of justice yet again. As it’s been observed many times over, justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere. Keeping the powerful, powerful, and the oppressed, oppressed.

Read more: Ontario turkey farm video shows ‘gaping hole’ in gov't animal welfare oversight; Hybrid Turkeys face criminal charges, plead guilty, measly $5,600 fine