The BC SPCA has seized more than a dozen rare and exotic African cats that sell for up to $20,000 each from a breeder north of Kamloops.
BC SPCA chief prevention and enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty said the animal welfare organization executed a warrant last week in Little Fort and discovered serval cats —10 adult and three kittens — being kept in RV trailers on the property, with the windows blacked out.
Little Fort is about an hour north of Kamloops on Highway 5.
Moriarty said trailers on the property were determined to contain high levels of ammonia and feces and were also poorly ventilated.
She said the cats sell online for between $10,000 and $20,000 each.
“This was a really tragic situation on so many levels,” Moriarty told KTW.
“These are wild animals. They are native to Africa. Their natural habitat includes wide ranges, lots of nourishment and they hunt for their prey in the wild.”
The BC SPCA found out about the breeder following veterinarian reports of sick kittens and complaints about the medical conditions of the cats.
Also seized were two dogs and one domestic cat, which were also determined to be in distress.
It is unclear how the breeder gained access to serval cats, though Moriarty said the breed is not prohibited under the province’s controlled alien species legislation.
Without such rules in place, municipalities can put into place exotic pet bylaws prohibiting such animals as serval cats.
“Clearly, that was not in place in Little Fort,” Moriarty said.
The BC SPCA will be recommending charges be laid against the breeder, with respect to violating the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.
The animals were removed with the help of a conservation officer and are being cared for at an undisclosed location.
Asked for a health status, Moriarty said that by all reports, they are doing “remarkably well.”
Moriarty cautioned potential pet owners against adopting serval cats.
In addition, without the province enacting legislation that would licence and register breeders, she asked people to understand homes from where they are getting animals.
The BC SPCA provides pre-adoption tips online at spca.bc.ca.