This past weekend, photographer Kornelia Kulbacki was at a Liberation B.C. demo at Hallmark poultry, when she captured a heartbreaking image of a soaked and forgotten chicken who had obviously been sent through the industrial sanitizing washer.
Fortunately, she stepped up and reported the incident to the BC SPCA (which enforces provincial animal welfare laws prohibiting causing or permitting animals to be in distress) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (which enforces federal laws prohibiting subjecting animals to avoidable distress or pain).
The BC SPCA opened an investigation, which is how they typically process reports of animal welfare law violations. With that headline, we issued a press release, and the story was picked up by the Vancouver Sun and the Province, both with the powerful headline "SPCA investigating alleged cruelty at Vancouver poultry processing plant." The Daily Hive also ran the story, with a Hallmark rep in the hot seat.
What did we accomplish? Many members of the public have now been exposed to two essential ideas: that animals are suffering in disturbing and surprising ways in our animal agriculture system, and that we expect laws to be enforced to protect even animals used for food.
This case may or may not result in charges. If it does, great, the industry will be forced to do better. If it doesn't, we've planted a seed of expectation--a seed that we can cultivate with animal cruelty report after animal cruelty report until we get laws routinely enforced for animals. With the public paying attention, it will be sooner rather than later that existing laws will be enforced to hold animal-use industries accountable for writing off a margin of unfathomable abuse as a cost of doing business.
PS. Obviously, this is an industry beyond repair in many ways. The image above shows a baby animal genetically manipulated to grow so large, so quickly that they can't even support their weight on their own legs. They have visible severe skin burns on their backside from sitting in filthy, ammonia-soaked litter. This was a baby who never even met their own mother, hatching in a tray and being roughly handled and packed in with thousands of other babies virtually from day one. Ideally everyone will simply stop supporting this unconscionable system. Until then, and to help us get there, we need to elevate the legal status of farmed animals.