Animal advocates say they have opened an investigation into "absolutely sickening" alleged animal abuse by a chicken−catching service in Chilliwack, B.C.

BC SPCA spokeswoman Marcie Moriarty says the agency has launched a formal investigation after receiving undercover video that allegedly shows multiple workers throwing, hitting, dismembering and killing the birds, and forcing the animals into violent sexual acts with each other.

She says the workers were hired to round up chickens for transport to a slaughter plant in Port Coquitlam.

Moriarty says the footage was shot by a non−profit animal advocacy group between May 10 and June 9.

Investigators with the B.C. SPCA are now working on a report that will be forwarded to Crown counsel and Moriarty says they will be recommending multiple charges of animal cruelty under both the Criminal Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

She says if the individuals are convicted, they face a fine up to $75,000, a maximum five−year prison sentence and could be banned for life from owning or being around animals.

The people shown in the video need to be held accountable for their actions, Moriarty says.

"The video includes some of the most brutal and sadistic acts of violence against animals I have ever seen," she says. "It is extremely difficult to watch."

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