A BCSPCA representative walks into the Reptile Guy’s facility on Dec. 2.

Reptile Guy to appeal SPCA seizure

On Dec. 2, SPCA representatives, the Mission RCMP and a veterinarian inspected the First Avenue facility and confiscated the animals.

Mike Hopcraft will launch a formal appeal to get his animals back.

Hopcraft, better known as “The Reptile Guy” had 14 reptiles and 44 rats seized from his downtown Mission facility last week by the BCSPCA.

On Dec. 2, SPCA representatives, the Mission RCMP and a veterinarian inspected the First Avenue facility and confiscated the animals.

A few days after the incident, Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer at the BCSPCA, said the confiscated animals were suffering from various ailments including dehydration, lack of access to water, lack of UV lighting, inadequate space, and untreated medical conditions.

Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BCSPCA, said the agency was responding to complaints received regarding the facility.

Chortyk said this was the fourth time the SPCA has gone to the Mission location regarding concerns for the animals.

She said rescue centres still have to keep up a certain level of care.

“When you take in an animal, then you are required to provide the proper care for them, whether that be shelter or the nutrition or the veterinary care.”

While the SPCA has great admiration for rescue groups, Chortyk said, “To move an animal from a bad situation to another bad situation, even with the best of intentions, is not good for that animal.”

She added it’s not a raid in a punishment sense, but rather it’s that these animals are in distress.

Hopcraft said allegations of mistreatment are not true.

“They (SPCA) come in and say that they are finding water (bowls) that aren’t done, or enclosures without food, and enclosures without adequate UV lighting. What they’re not saying is that for the UV lighting, we are supplementing with a vitamin powder,” said Hopcraft.

He said many adult animals don’t need UV lighting as long as they are getting some kind of supplementation.

“They (SPCA) go through and see a bearded dragon that doesn’t have a water dish but they don’t comment on the big salad that’s there. And that’s where bearded dragons get their moisture from – it’s from the salad. They very rarely drink from a dish.”

He said there are more than 300 animals in the facility and the latest inspection, which occurred at 10:30 a.m., found five empty water dishes. Those would have been filled had the SPCA inspection not halted staff from performing daily routines.

He also noted that reptiles are different from cats and dogs.

“We are talking about animals that might have a drink of water once every couple of days.”

He admitted that one chameleon in his care was dehydrated, but it was in poor condition when it was brought in, and has been rehabbing for months.

Hopcraft has 14 days in which to launch his appeal.

Chortyk explained that whenever an animal is seized, the owner has a two-week period to submit reasons why it should be returned.

A third party is brought in to make a decision.

The SPCA’s investigation is ongoing, but so far, no charges against Hopcraft have been recommended.

Chortyk said it is too early in the investigation to determine if there is enough evidence to take to Crown counsel.

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