It’s the fourth time the SPCA has raided a popular Mission reptile rehabilitation clinic – and owner Mike Hopcroft isn’t sure how to make the animal welfare organization happy.
He says they’ve executed four warrants since he opened his new Reptile Guy rescue centre location in July. This time, they took 14 reptiles and 44 rats, out of over 100 rats and 300 reptiles housed in the Mission location on 1st Avenue.
“They came in about 10:30 [Wednesday] morning with a warrant,” said Hopcroft. “They started taking animals, and I asked why…they said because they were in critical distress.”
Hopcroft says many of the Reptile Guy’s creatures appear to be in poor condition because they were brought in that way, and he and his staff are trying to nurse them back to health.
“One of the animals they said was in ‘critical distress’ was a chameleon we’ve been rehabilitating for three months now,” he explained, saying the animal was brought in with a life-threatening Vitamin A deficiency but has been steadily gaining vitality.
The Reptile Guy allows visitors to tour the centre for a fee, and they also provide birthday parties and educational presentations. Before moving to Mission this summer, he operated the centre in Abbotsford.
The BC SPCA spokesperson has not yet responded to a request for comment, but the agency has given a general release to media saying they do not execute warrants without evidence that animals are in distress.
The reptiles taken include four iguanas, two corn snakes, leopard geckos, bearded dragons, a water dragon and a boa constrictor.
Hopcroft believes the SPCA's repeated searches are holding his centre to "an unattainable standard." They’ve asked him to ensure all the animals animals have food, water, clean habitats and adequate lighting – all requests he said he has followed.
“It’s just really frustrating to me, because it’s a rescue. They expect every animal to be in 100 per cent great condition, or else it’s our fault and we’re neglecting them.”
Hopcroft has 14 days to appeal and request the animals returned, which he plans to do. As he's been doing reptile rescue work for 15 years, he doesn’t intend to stop now.
“I’m trying to regroup and de-stress … I’m still a little numb from the whole thing,” he said.