‘Sadistic’ abuse secretly recorded at Canada poultry firm
One of Canada’s largest animal welfare charities is investigating "absolutely sickening" acts of alleged abuse of chickens at a company.
Secretly recorded footage showed chickens being dismembered, flung around and forced to perform violent sex acts at Elite Farm Services.
Elite told CTV that it has since fired several several employees.
The SPCA in the province of British Columbia said those behind the alleged cruelty would be held accountable.
Rights group Mercy for Animals filmed the video from May 10 to June 9.
"The images in this video are absolutely sickening and the individual employees and the companies involved need to be held accountable," said Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the British Columbian (BC) SPCA, in a statement.
Elite Farm Services were not immediately available for comment to the BBC.
In a statement to CTV news, the company said they will also conduct an internal review of all guidelines, practices and training.
"We are sickened with the footage and want to ensure all our suppliers and producers that this is not reflective of who we are, our fundamental beliefs or behavior we accept from our employees," Elite president Dwayne Dueck said in a statement Tuesday.
The company was hired by Sofina Foods Inc to go to farms around the province, catch broiler chickens and transport them to slaughter. Sofina sells chicken products to Loblaws, one of Canada’s largest grocery chains.
"We are appalled and extremely shocked by the video footage we saw," Sofina said in a statement.
"Ethical and responsible treatment of animals is of utmost importance to our organization."
The company said it was working with Elite Farms to conduct an investigation and would take immediate action.
Ms Moriarty said the SPCA received the video from Mercy for Animals and would be filing a report as soon as possible.
The BC SPCA, a non-profit organisation, is legally empowered to investigate alleged animal cruelty and recommend charges to prosecutors.
"The video includes some of the most brutal and sadistic acts of violence against animals I have ever seen," said Ms Moriarty.
"It is extremely difficult to watch."
The allegations have not been proven in court.
If convicted, the individuals and companies involved face a fine up to $75,000, a maximum five-year jail sentence and up to a lifetime ban on owning or being around animals.