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In June, the BC SPCA seized 10 adult serval cats and three serval kittens in distress from a breeder near Kamloops, prompting the organization to call for change.
The BC SPCA was alerted to the breeder after receiving complaints of sick and injured animals being sold. The exotic animals were found in horrific conditions.
Most of the servals were being kept in RV trailers on the property, exposed to high levels of ammonia from urine, with litter boxes overflowing with feces, without proper ventilation or access to water, high temperatures and windows covered so they had no natural light.
The BC Farm Review Board ended up awarding custody of the serval cats to the BC SPCA, and after months of specialized care, the wild animals will be transferred to accredited sanctuaries to live out their lives.
“Unfortunately, there is a chance this could happen again,” the BC SPCA said. “The breeding and possession of servals remains legal in BC but it doesn’t have to stay that way.”
The animal rescue organization is asking the provincial government to add the serval to the Controlled Alien Species list, which would make the importation, breeding, sale, display and private possession of servals illegal.
They’ve started a petition, which already has over 1,700 signatures out of 3,000.
The petition is directed at the director of wildlife and habitat, Jennifer Psyllakis.
“BC’s Controlled Alien Species Regulation is due for an update. A decade after the historic legislation and regulations were introduced, it is an appropriate time to review the dangerous exotic animals that are still being imported and bred in B.C. without a permit,” the petition reads.
The BC SPCA explains that, previously, breeders and owners of serval cats would declaw them to prohibit their natural instincts and reduce harm to other pets in the home or damage to property.
However, veterinarians in British Columbia are no longer legally permitted to declaw cats – a move the BC SPCA supported.
The risks serval cats now pose as pets has increased, and due to their significant leg strength and jumping capabilities, there have been several reported cases of serval cat escapes and deaths, the organization said.
“No wild animal should be kept as a pet - and those that pose a significant danger and suffer greatly, like wild cats who need to hunt and roam, should be controlled by the Province.”