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Monday, Dec 12, 2005
Alleged: Linda Hopley
According to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), an investigation is ongoing and charges are pending following the December 12, 2005 removal of 79 cats from Linda Hopley's property. A veterinarian determined that the cats were suffering from various ailments including panleukemia (a highly contagious and deadly viral disease with symptoms including depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and a high fever), calicivirus (a viral disease with mild flu-like symptoms), fleas, ear mites and significant weight loss.
Following up on a complaint from some local residents, an Ontario SPCA investigator visited the property and claimed that she found the ailing cats in a barn that provided no ventilation, lighting or windows, and feces and urine covered areas of the floor. Even some of the food left for the cats appeared mouldy. Orders were issued stating that the owner must take steps to: create a separate area to isolate sick animals and those under treatment for panleukemia and calicivirus; clean up fecal matter and floors; provide clean bedding; clean the dishes; improve ventilation; and provide natural and/or artificial light. Hopley said that she received the order on Thursday, December 8, 2005, and proceeded to comply with the order. She said that she put all new blankets in the cat areas and washed all the floors. The windows had been covered to keep out the cold and instead she was using heat lamps such as those used in chicken barns. Straw bedding was supplied and the cats were free to roam in the large indoor area. Sick cats were moved to a separate room as per the SPCA order. "These cats have never gone without food or water," said Hopley. "I make sure to mix up what they need using herbal supplements."
The first time Hopley had a visit from authorities was on October 26. Donna Goulding from the Humane Society in Port Hope went through the barns and ordered Hopley to have the animals vet checked. At $120 per hour, Hopley said that she complied with that order. According to Hopley, the veterinary service she used wasn't careful and, after visiting the sick room, failed to wash their hands before examining the healthy cats in another room. "The next time they came, one of the cats in the healthy room was almost dead," said Hopley. That could have been the vet's fault for not sterilizing their hands before checking them."
According to the SPCA, the cats were removed from the property due to their deteriorating health, the owner's failure to comply with the Order, and the recommendation of the veterinarian. Sixty-nine of the cats were taken to the Ontario SPCA York Region Branch where they are currently being cared for. Ten cats are currently at a veterinary clinic receiving treatment for panleukemia. Hopley argues that she did comply with the order but wasn't given the opportunity to speak with officials before the cats were removed from her property.
"They normally came in the evening so I went to work thinking that they would come on Monday (December 12) evening, but when I came home, the cats had been removed and a notice left saying that they had removed 19 cats from the south barn and 60 from the east barn," said Hopley. "They didn't even give me a chance to show them what I had done since I got the order."
"They [the SPCA) don't even know the history of any of the cats, whether they have allergies or anything about them," said Hopley.
"We were helping the cats for nothing," said Hopley. "We had a yard sale each weekend and all proceeds went to look after the cats. People were very generous in donating items."
Community Press - December 30, 2005
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