R v Chilliwack Cattle Sales Ltd., 2013 BCSC 1059

The defendants had contracted with Roberge Transport to transport culled dairy cows from BC to Alberta. The transport vehicle was stopped by the CFIA and three cows were euthanized due to their conditions.

The defendants were charged under s. 65(1)(b) Health of Animals Act for with unlawfully causing cows to be loaded and transported which could not be transported without undue suffering during their expected journey in violation of s. 138(2) of the Health of Animals Regulations (section now repealed). The Crown must establish a causal link between the transportation, the undue suffering and the animals’ infirmity.

The trial judge found that, before they were loaded, the cows had been inspected and no signs of any conditions that would have caused them to experience undue suffering during the expected journey of about 13 hours were observed. He also found that the cause of the cows’ deterioration between the loading and unloading was not known.

The defendants were found not guilty because the actus reus was not proven. Further, the defendants had exercised due diligence in their loading practices and in hiring Roberge to transport the cattle for the expected journey.

The judge noted that the Crown could have charged the driver for his role as transporter, based on the departures he knew would occur from the journey expected and undue suffering this could cause.