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

This was the line-up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre at around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The short-up line speaks to the high number of votes, which have already been cast against the backdrop of COVID-19 by mail or in advanced voting. Voters, however, unanimously praised the safety measures in place, as well the convenience of the polling stations. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
‘Slow’ turnout at polls across Saanich North and the Islands

Peter Mason, district electoral officer, expects about 10,000 ballots to be cast

Drive up voting is popular with Victoria-Swan Lake voters at the Craigflower elementary polling station. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Drive up voting popular at Craigflower polling station in Victoria-Swan Lake

Nearly 13,000 mail-in ballots were requested in the Victoria-Swan Lake riding

Oak Bay High voting station was slow and steady for the provincial election day, Oct. 24, 2020. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Early voting reduces election day turnout in Oak Bay-Gordon Head

An estimated 15,918 mail-in ballots requested in Oak Bay-Gordon Head

Polls close at 8 p.m. in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding. (Katherine Engqvist/News Staff)
VIDEO: Esquimalt-Metchosin candidates reflect on campaign as polls close

An estimated 12,000 mail-in ballots were requested in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding

Barb Wright and Cynthia Vance at the District Electoral Office for the Langford-Juan de Fuca (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Polls now closed in Langford-Juan de Fuca

An estimated 12,120 mail-in ballots were requested in the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read