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Criminal Charge Dropped Against Witness Who Filmed Fur Farm Cruelty

Animal Justice October 23, 2018

Prosecutors in Oshawa, Ontario have withdrawn a criminal break and enter charge against animal advocate Malcolm Klimowicz, who was charged earlier this year after filming severe neglect and cruelty on a mink farm. The charge had prompted massive rallies outside the Oshawa courthouse, significant public outcry, and even inspired the hashtag #MinkTrial.

Break and enter carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Initially, prosecutors refused to withdraw the charge laid by police, even though legal experts considered the case against Mr. Klimowicz to be weak.

In 2017, Mr. Klimowicz walked on to multiple mink farms in Ontario and filmed the heartbreaking conditions that he found. He documented injured and dead minks confined in tiny, filthy wire cages, with piles of feces, puddles of urine, and crawling maggots. Minks were frequently overcrowded in the barren cages, and many suffered from open wounds and displayed repetitive behaviours that indicate severe psychological distress.

The shocking video footage was submitted to authorities, but the fur farms escaped prosecution, despite evidence of unimaginable cruelty in violation of federal and provincial laws. The only charges laid were against Mr. Klimowicz himself.

Although the Oshawa charge has now been withdrawn, Mr. Klimowicz still faces similar charges in Collingwood and Kingston.

Police and prosecutors frequently pursue animal advocates for exposing animal suffering while ignoring the crimes of the animal abusers, including Save Movement founder Anita Krajnc, acquitted of criminal mischief for giving water to thirsty pigs. The Krajnc trial made global headlines and exposed millions of people to meat industry cruelty. If the remaining charges against Mr. Klimowicz go to trial, the prosecution will undoubtedly have the same effect, increasing public awareness of horrific cruelty inherent in the Canadian fur industry.

Fur farming is largely unregulated in Canada, with few, if any, standards for the conditions under which animals must be kept. Fur farm cruelty runs rampant, as documented by Mr. Klimowicz as well as during another cross-country undercover investigation in 2014.

Mr. Klimowicz is accepting contributions toward his legal defence on his crowdfunding page, and supporters are invited to stay tuned for details on future court dates.

 

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Chilliwack Workers Sentenced To Jail Time for Dairy Cow Abuse

Animal Justice May 18, 2017

Three B.C. men have been sentenced to jail time after pleading guilty to violently abusing cows at Chilliwack Cattle Sales—Canada’s largest dairy farm.

As reported in The Vancouver Sun, two workers were sentenced to 60 days in jail, to be served on weekends, and are banned from owning animals for three years. A third worker was sentenced to seven days in jail and a one-year ban on owning animals.

The cow abuse dates back to 2014, when Mercy For Animals released an undercover video exposing abuse at the farm. The footage showed workers repeatedly hitting, beating, kicking, punching, and whipping cows with chains and canes; a cow being lifted by a tractor with a chain around her neck; and workers abusing a pigeon.

Chilliwack Cattle Sales president Kenneth Kooyman and director Wesley Kooyman were fined $300,000 late last year after they pleaded guilty to several counts of animal cruelty on behalf of the dairy. Four more former workers are set to face trial, starting on Friday, May 19.

The Chilliwack case highlights a gaping flaw in Canada’s legal system: Animals on farms aren’t protected by effective oversight. Farms aren’t required to be licenced, employees aren’t required to have any training, and the government does not inspect or monitor farms for animal welfare measures.

Even when there is no overt abuse or neglect of animals, many consumers are surprised to learn that standard industry practices—which are considered legal by authorities—still involve extreme animal suffering.

For example, on dairy farms, calves are taken from their mothers at birth so the milk can be sold by the dairy industry. The baby calves are fed formula before they’re killed for veal (in the case of male calves) or used as dairy cows themselves (in the case of female calves). All dairy cows are killed when they become less profitable, at only a fraction of their natural lifespan.

Research by Animal Justice shows that more than 771 million animals were killed for food in 2016, making the treatment of farmed animals a pressing social issue.

Animal Justice

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Animal Justice Intervening in Vancouver Aquarium Copyright Appeal at BC Court of Appeal

Animal Justice March 19, 2017

VANCOUVER – National animal law organization Animal Justice will argue before the BC Court of Appeal on Monday as an intervener in an important appeal that could affect the ability of animal advocates to film, expose, and publicize animal cruelty in Canada.

The case is an appeal from a decision of the BC Supreme Court in a lawsuit filed by the Vancouver Aquarium against filmmaker Gary Charbonneau over his documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered, which exposes the cruelty of keeping sentient whales and dolphins in captivity at the Aquarium. The Aquarium sued Mr. Charbonneau for alleged copyright violations, and sought an injunction to remove the film from the internet. In April 2016, the injunction judge ordered that several minutes of footage must be removed from the film.

Legal experts have called the Aquarium’s lawsuit an abuse of copyright law and an illegitimate attempt to silence free speech on a matter of public importance. The BC Court of Appeal granted Mr. Charbonneau leave to appeal the injunction.

Animal Justice will intervene to argue that if the injunction decision is not overturned, secretive animal use industries will be emboldened to file illegitimate copyright lawsuits to silence animal advocates. This could prevent them from investigating, documenting, and exposing hidden animal cruelty. The BC Civil Liberties Association is also intervening in the appeal.

Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice, will be available for comment following the appeal, along with Mr. Charbonneau and his lawyer Arden Beddoes.

Animal Justice is represented by Bryan McLean of Lindsay LLP.

What:
The BC Court of Appeal will hear arguments in the case of Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre v. Gary Charbonneau

When:
Monday, March 20, 2017
Supporters of Mr. Charbonneau will gather at 9:00 a.m. outside the courthouse for a rally
Court begins at 10:00 a.m. PT

Where:
BC Court of Appeal, Room 60
900 Smithe Street, Vancouver

Who:
Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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