Protesters from Okanagan Animal Save picketed on the side of the road across from D Dutchmen Dairy, a place which they say puts a family-friendly face on a cruel industry.
Eight protesters carrying signs bearing photos of cows and calves as well as slogans such as “dairy kills babies” and “stop the cruelty,” handed out leaflets condemning the dairy industry.
“Behind the scenes of a dairy, it’s horrifically cruel, the dairy industry is probably just the cruelest industry on the planet,” said Carla Irvine, one of the protesters.
“Cows are artificially bred, they’re mutilated, their horns are cut off, they’re often castrated without anesthetic. They’re confined for their whole lives. Baby males are either killed at birth or sent to veal crates and killed at a few months of age,” said Irvine.
Irvine and another protester and member of Okanagan Animal Save, Kim Gaalaas, said they are not attacking the treatment of the cows at D Dutchmen and its attached farm, DeWitt Holsteins.
When asked why Okanagan Animal Save chose to protest in Sicamous, Irvine said it is the farm and dairy’s family-friendly esthetic they are primarily opposed to.
“This one kind of got on our radar because it presents itself as such a beautiful family event – like bring your families, eat the ice cream; it makes it look like its very humane.
“Nothing humane happens at a dairy farm, nothing humane happens at a slaughter house,” Irvine said.
Gaalaas and Irvine said they requested a police presence in response to threatening comments on the activist group’s Facebook page. An RCMP vehicle was on scene for the protest.
Jake DeWitt, the owner of D Dutchmen Dairy, said he feels his business is undeserving of the attention it received from the protesters, both because it is a separate business from the farm where the dairy cows are raised and managed by his brother and because the cows at DeWitt Holsteins are treated well.
“Our goal has always been to market our products directly to consumers and have a spot for families to stop and tour the farm and see how milk is produced,” DeWitt said.
“We have nothing to hide in that regard.”
He added that people are free to walk around and see that the cows have open access to both the pasture and the barn and are not mistreated.
“His (my brother’s) farm, our businesses, are open to the public to walk around and see exactly what we do 24/7. We have nothing to hide. If we were hurting animals, people would complain to the SPCA and they would check it out,” DeWitt said.
He said he believes D Dutchmen was chosen as the subject of the protest because it is a busy tourist spot.
“It’s because there’s a lot of people here. That’s the only reason they’re here. If they were really concerned about the treatment of animals, they would go to some big farm somewhere and go check that out and protest that, and of course not a single person would see it,” DeWitt said.
“This is ridiculous, they’re hypocrites; they have horses, they have dogs.
“This farm has cows, they choose to utilize the cows to produce milk, it’s a local small dairy farm, if they want to go after anybody, they should go after the big corporations and not a family dairy farm,” said Lisa Cote, a Sicamous resident who was at the farm in support of the local business.
Cote and the protesters, standing on the opposite sides of Maier Road, argued over the treatment of cattle and the ethics of consuming cows’ milk as other people walked past to visit the farm and dairy.