Nearly 500 'abandoned' animals seized from pet store in West Edmonton Mall
'We're concerned for ensuring their well being. Charges could potentially be laid against an owner'
The Edmonton Humane Society has seized close to 500 animals from a My Pet store in West Edmonton Mall due to concerns the animals had been abandoned.
The society received a complaint that small animals, including birds, amphibians, fish, reptiles and arachnids were abandoned on Monday. After checking the store, the society said the concerns were warranted and the group applied for a seizure execution.
"This is the second-largest seizure we've done, to my knowledge," said Danika Bodnarchuk, supervisor of animal protection services with the Edmonton Humane Society.
The conditions of the animals is not being disclosed.
"At this point we're concerned for ensuring their well being. Charges could potentially be laid against an owner," Bodnarchuk said. "We are at the very early stages of the investigation."
On Wednesday, West Edmonton Mall's manager of marketing and communications, Darcy Hewson, released a statement about the seizure of the animals.
"West Edmonton Mall, along with the owner of My Pet, worked together to facilitate the handover of animals to the Edmonton Humane Society within hours of the permanent closure of this tenant," the statement said.
The storefront in the mall where My Pet was located is now covered up.
The seizure was made in accordance with the Animal Protection Act, which describes an abandoned animal as one that is left for more than 24 hours without adequate food, water or shelter, or is found on premises where a tenancy agreement has been terminated.
"We have to look into all the information, look into all the evidence taken at the seizure — a lot of paperwork — and then we determine whether to lay charges."
An abandonment charge can lead to a maximum fine of $20,000 and a lifetime ban from owning animals.
Bodnarchuk said the large number of animals seized has created additional costs for the Edmonton Humane Society.
"They do require specialized care," Bodnarchuk said. "We had to provide enclosures for them — a lot of materials that we don't normally have on hand at the shelter."
Under the Animal Protection Act, animals that have been seized must remain at a shelter and are monitored for 10 days before they can be available for adoption.