Two cats were brought into a veterinary office in St. John’s Dec. 14 and, less than a week later, police and SPCA volunteers were in Fox Harbour, pulling 25 more from the animal owner’s home.
The house in the Placentia Bay area was “dilapidated, uninhabitable,” according to one RCMP officer, who confirmed on Thursday charges will be laid as a followup to the Dec. 20 raid.
The charges are likely to come under the province’s Animal Health and Protection Act — proclaimed May 2 and featuring stiffer penalties for those found guilty of mistreatming animals.
The veterinarian who assessed the two cats brought to St. John’s reported the encounter to police as a possible case of animals in distress, as defined under the new Act.
“The one cat was severely dehydrated and emaciated. It was jaundiced and ... (had) what the vet believed to be burns to its rear paws, and in their opinion was slowly- was dying, was not going to recover,” said Cpl. Kelly Bryan at the Placentia RCMP detachment, in an interview with The Telegram Thursday.
“The other was a small kitten. That too was dehydrated and emaciated. The vet did what (they) could for it and the homeowner took the animal with them back to Fox Harbour.”
With the complaint, the RCMP launched an investigation and obtained a search warrant for the owner’s home. The warrant indicated the RCMP had come to believe as many as 80 cats might be inside, though police were not certain of exactly how many they would find, Bryan said.
Volunteers with the SPCA were gathered.
“Once we got them on board and they rallied up what troops they needed and got their resources together, that’s when we had the warrant signed and went out and as a result there’s 25 additional animals were seized,” he said, “and now of course they’re in the care of the SPCA.”
No charges have yet been laid in the case.
A comprehensive veterinarian’s report is in the works, one that will show the state of each of the animals. It will allow a determination as to how many charges might ultimately be set down.
“Until we hear otherwise or we’re given a better direction, my interpretation anyway of the Act is that each animal would be a separate case, just like a human,” Bryan said.
Meanwhile, at the SPCA in St. John’s, shelter manager Kristy Bailey said she is hesitant to talk about the case at this point, but did confirm the SPCA offered advice to police on handling the animals and co-ordinated volunteers to assist in removing the cats from the Fox Harbour home.
“The majority of cats were not in very good health. So a lot of them didn’t make it,” Bailey said.
Until charges are laid, the names of the cat owner or owners is not being released.