B.C. family under investigation after buying injured calves from dairy farm

Cici Life Farm Sanctuary is being scrutinized for transporting two injured bull calves

When Patricia Smuga rescued two calves from a dairy farm last summer she thought it was an act of kindness. Instead, she’s being investigated for violating a federal law.

Smuga and her husband Ernest operate Cici Life Farm Sanctuary, a home for abused and neglected farm animals, near Winlaw, B.C. The pair purchased a pair of injured and sickly bull calves in August from a West Kootenay dairy farm.

But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is now investigating the sanctuary for violating the Health of Animals Act, which says injured farm animals can’t be transported.

“It’s crazy that they are using this against us,” said Patricia Smuga.

Bull calves at dairy farms are usually either sold for veal or destroyed onsite. There’s also no use for them as breeders, since cows are artificially impregnated.

Smuga said the calves were purchased for $175, and estimated the family has since spent around $8,000 in veterinary bills to rehabilitate the animals.

One of the calves, which was five days old when it was purchased, was malnourished and had a parasitic infection that was healed after antibiotic treatment. The other had a leg with nerve damage and couldn’t walk properly. It’s currently in a cast. “Several vets thought we should put him down,” said Smuga.

Related: Barnyard Besties: Farm animal sanctuary opens

Dr. Andrew Mack, a Cranbrook-based inspector with the CFIA, visited the sanctuary on Nov. 30. When contacted by the Star, Mack’s office deferred to the CFIA’s media relations office.

In a statement sent to the Star, the CFIA said its investigation was prompted after being contacted about the sale by an unidentified person.

“The CFIA routinely conducts inspections based on these types of reports to gather additional information about the circumstances involved in the transport of potentially compromised animals,” reads the statement. “Inspections normally involve contacting the owners of the farm of origin, the destination premises and any transporters involved in the movement of the animals.”

The releases adds no decision has been made on the case.

Subsection 138 of the federal regulations, which pertains to sick, pregnant and unfit animals, says non-ambulatory animals cannot be loaded, unloaded or transported. An exemption exists for veterinary treatment, but only if agreed to by a vet prior to the transportation.

Smuga says the calves were taken directly to a vet after they were purchased, although they hadn’t previously been given the clearance to do so. Their current vet works in Vernon, which has meant several trips for checkups and surgery.

“The only time we’ve ever transported them was to the vet,” said Smuga. “I didn’t take them to the park or randomly around town for no reason. They were taken for medical care every single time.”

Anna Pippus, a Vancouver-based animal justice lawyer advising the Smugas, says she’s never previously heard of the CFIA investigating an animal rescuer.

“I think the bigger question is why is the person who is attempting to alleviate the distress of animals is under investigation rather than the person who put the animals in distress in the first place?” said Pippus.

“This is such a classic example of law enforcement getting the wrong guy.”

If found guilty the family could face a fine ranging between $500 to $1,500, according to the CFIA. Pippus said there’s also the possibility that the calves are confiscated.

Smuga declined to say which farm she purchased the calves from. The problem, in her opinion, isn’t one dairy farm — it’s the entire industry’s treatment of animals.

“I believe the practices that happen in order for us to have dairy and produce dairy on a large scale that goes to stores and people can buy come with this suffering and exploitation of animals,” she said.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Patricia Smuga feeds one of two injured bull calves (above) her sanctuary rescued in August. Smuga is being investigated by a federal agency for illegally transporting the calves. Photos submitted

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Alert Bay: COVID-19 cases go from 30 to zero thanks to health and emergency planning

Dr. Cutfeet says community leadership set Alert Bay up for success

Kwakiutl First Nation cautiously eases restrictions around COVID-19; Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw to remain locked down for now

Both First Nations near Port Hardy have no COVID-19 cases, and are prioritizing community safety

Pacific Coastal Airlines will resume service next month

‘We are pleased to confirm that we will be resuming scheduled service on June 1, 2020’

MP Rachel Blaney feels low-income boost for seniors falls short, but is pleased with the support for commercial fishers

‘Seniors in our communities have been asking for help with additional costs due to COVID-19’

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read