A dairy farmer in Southwestern Ontario has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty after authorities say he broke into his farm’s barn and stole a pig.
“I believe that we were all in a lot of pain, and we’re still hurting,” said Steve Rolfe, who has been in and out of custody since March 18.
“This is something that we’re going to have to work through, but we’ve had enough,” said Rolfes attorney, Brian Schott.
The farmer was arrested on March 8, after he was charged with six counts of breaking and entering a dairy barn.
He is accused of leaving his pigs inside his barn for three days before breaking down the door and taking away the animals, CBC News has learned.
Rolfi, a father of four, is scheduled to appear in court on April 16.
The incident took place in July, according to police.
“He’s just been a great farmer, he’s been a good farmer for me,” said Stephanie Siegel.
“The most important thing is for me to just go on with my life and try to move on and move on.”
A spokesperson for the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that it “takes allegations of animal abuse very seriously.”
“The safety of our employees, our property, our animals, and all the residents of the community is our top priority,” said the statement.
“If we believe there has been a serious or repeated breach of a facility or a person’s safety, we will conduct an investigation and take appropriate action.”
In a Facebook post, the sheriff’s department said it is investigating the allegations and working with the Ontario SPCA to determine whether charges should be laid.
“There is no place for animal abuse on farms, and the sheriff is working to make sure this never happens again,” the statement read.
“Any animal that is hurt or in need of care is welcomed and cared for by our team members.
If any animal is found in need, they will be returned to their owner.
If we have reason to believe that there is abuse on our farm, we are working to take steps to ensure this never occurs again.”
The Niagara SPCS said it does not comment on ongoing investigations.
In a statement, the group said it’s “profoundly concerned” about the allegations.
“Our first priority is to ensure that the animals are cared for, humanely and in accordance with the highest standards of animal welfare,” the group wrote.
“We are working closely with our counterparts from the SPCAs Humane Society and Niagara County Animal Services and the Niagara Humane Society to investigate this case.”
The SPCAS did not respond to a request for comment on the situation.
The Niagara County SPCs Animal Control said they have an officer on patrol for the time being and they’re in contact with authorities.
“While we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, we would encourage people to contact the SSPCA if they have any concerns,” the organization said in an email.
In the wake of the incident, the Niagara SSPC said it had put in place a “zero tolerance” policy on animal abuse.
The group also said it has a policy against animal cruelty and that it would be investigating any complaints.
“It’s a real shame that we’ve come to this, and I’m sad and embarrassed and I feel for the people that are hurting,” Siegel said.
“They’re just living in fear of someone.”