The BC SPCA says it plans to recommend animal cruelty charges after seizing more than a dozen exotic cats from a breeder near Little Fort, B.C., that officials say were living in “horrific conditions.”
The agency alleges that the 10 adult serval cats and three kittens were being housed in dark, hot RV trailers with a lack of ventilation and water, and had been exposed to high levels of ammonia from urine.
They were also found among litter boxes overflowing with feces, the SPCA said.
Serval cats are wild African felines that the SPCA says need lots of space to run, along with a “highly enriched” environment, where they can express their hunting and playing instincts.
“Breeders make a lot of money from selling these exotic animals. It’s unfortunate because these are animals that were meant to be in the wild. They weren’t meant to be in captivity. But people buy them as a novelty,” said BC SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk.
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“They have very very particular needs and they were being kept in conditions that did not come close to meeting their physical or psychological needs.”
The agency said it became aware of the cats after getting complaints about sick and injured cats for sale. The cats were removed with the help of the Conservation Officer Service, and are now being cared for in an undisclosed location.
Moriarty said the case highlights the problem of substandard breeders operating slick websites that allow them to traffic in animals while hiding the poor conditions they are kept in.
“Like many breeders that we see whether it’s puppy mills or other breeders people can have a really lovely web site it can look you know lovely conditions everything but it has nothing to do with the actual living conditions of the animals on site,” said Chortyk.
“So people never visit these properties so they don’t know the kinds of things that are actually happening in the places these animals are being bred.”
Owning serval cats is not illegal in B.C. under controlled alien species legislation, and the SPCA says as a result their breeding is unregulated.
It says the cats will remain in the SPCA’s care pending the outcome of legal proceedings. If the owners are found guilty, it said the cats would be taken to a sanctuary where they can live with proper care.
In addition to the serval cats, the SPCA said it also seized from the property two dogs and one domestic cat that were in distress.
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