The B.C. SPCA has removed 14 reptiles, 46 rats and six deceased animals from the Reptile Guy Rescue and Education Centre in Mission, B.C., after a complaint of animals in distress.
The centre is run by Mike Hopcraft, who denies allegations of animal cruelty. The animals removed on Wednesday included:
- 4 iguanas
- 2 corn snakes
- 1 frilled lizard
- 2 leopard geckos
- 2 bearded dragons
- 1 panther chameleon
- 1 water dragon
- 1 boa
The lizards were deemed to be in distress or critical distress, said the SPCA's Marcie Moriarty. The rats were intended to be food for the reptiles, but up until that point, said Moriarty, they should be treated just as well as any other animal.
Moriarty says the animals were suffering from dehydration, lack of access to water, lack of UV lighting where appropriate, inadequate space, requiring veterinary treatment and untreated medical conditions, amongst other problems.
"Mr. Hopcraft could have easily rectified everything that was identified," said Moriarty. "These are concerns the SPCA have had before."
Of the six deceased animals seized, one was a rat which died at the scene, while five were taken from a freezer, meaning a necropsy will be required to identify them.
Owner claims treatment takes time
Owner Mike Hopcraft took to Facebook to deny the allegations, saying this was the fourth warrant issued by the SPCA against his rescue centre.
"We are without words right now ... I don't see what the point of my job is if I'm not allowed to rehab the animals," he wrote.
Hopcraft argued the animals come into the facility sick and treatment takes a long time.
"They don't get better overnight in our facility. It takes time to recover — but I don't get that time," he said.
Moriarty disputes these claims.
"While Mr. Hopcraft claims the animals were received in bad condition and required a lengthy period of time to recover, the fact is the instances of distress found in the animals that were seized were all things that could be remedied in a very short period of time, if not immediately."
In his most recent Facebook message, Hopcraft thanked his supporters and said he is "taking some time in the next few weeks to really figure out the future and direction of our facility."
The CBC reached out to Hopcraft for comment, but at the time of writing, calls and messages had not been returned.
The SPCA's investigation is ongoing.