A provincial judge has fined a Neepawa veterinarian $80,000 for issuing improper health certificates that allowed cattle to be exported illegally into the United States in 2009.
On Oct. 1, Dr. Fawcett Taylor pleaded guilty in a Winnipeg court to one count of neglecting to perform a duty imposed on him under Section 34 of the Health of Animals Act.
According to Global Winnipeg, both the Crown and defence agreed that Taylor did not purposely approve the cattle for export.
When asked if he wanted to say anything in court, Taylor said, "No, just that I’m sorry."
Taylor was contacted by the Brandon Sun on Saturday, but chose not to comment on the fine, which he will have nine months to pay.
The charges stem from a Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigation that began in 2009 after a load of 42 cattle was refused entry into the U.S. at the Emerson border crossing.
A CFIA inspection manager for eastern Manitoba claimed the U.S. Department of Agriculture rejected the load after the discovery of a downer cow — an animal that is unable to rise on its own, possible due to trauma or disease — on the trailer.
Taylor, of Brydges and Taylor Veterinary Clinic in Neepawa, signed the export certificate indicating he had examined the cattle on the same day they were turned around at the border.
The CFIA cancelled Taylor’s cattle export accreditation later the same year and he has not certified cattle since.
n 2003, the U.S. government banned imports of Canadian cattle following the discovery of a single cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad cow disease.
The U.S. eventually relaxed the ban to allow cattle under the age of 30 months in 2005 and then again in 2007 to animals born after March 1, 1999.
In order to meet the requirements, the Canadian government passed regulations that required all cattle destined for the U.S. to be identified with a unique ear tag and to be examined by a qualified veterinarian for age, sex and breed verification.
According to search warrant documents, the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency tag number on the downer cow suggested the cow was 10 months old at the time of expert. However, in a statement made under oath, a pathologist with Manitoba Agriculture claimed that the animal’s teeth were consistent with an older animal between 10 to 15 years of age.
In April 2010, CFIA investigators obtained warrants and searched Taylor’s clinic as well as three cattle companies in the area.
As a result of the search, Taylor and six others were charged with offences under the Health of Animals Act.
This summer the charges against some of the parties were stayed.
with Brandon Sun files
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 9, 2012