Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the BCSPCA, confirmed the recommendation this week and said more charges may be sought.
“In virtually any case where we do seize animals, our role as the investigation agency is to prepare a report to Crown counsel. We have done that,” she explained.
The charges are being recommended under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
While one set of recommendations has already been presented, a second set will go in shortly. Moriarty said it could take several months before hearing back from Crown counsel.
Court documents – the search warrant and information to obtain a search warrant – were made public by an animal activist group and state that in June 2015, the SPCA received a complaint from an ex-employee at the reptile centre, including photographs of animals in distress.
The documents list a series of concerns following several inspections. The allegations include animals enclosed in unsanitary conditions, dead animals, underweight animals, animals without water, a fungal infection, overcrowding and animals in critical distress.
Other concerns included small enclosures, inappropriate lighting and heating, and exposed wiring.
According to the documentation, a mountain horned dragon was found dead, with its eyes eaten out by crickets.
Two bearded dragons were seized, “one was found to be emaciated and had four broken legs,” according to the court documents.
The dragon was euthanized. The second dragon was also emaciated, according to the allegations.
Moriarty said the BCSPCA is currently working with Hopcraft.
“There were some outstanding orders with respect to animals in his care and he has had a veterinarian out to examine the animals and he’s complying with the veterinarian’s recommendations.”
She added that unless the BCSPCA receives additional concerns, they will just be following up to ensure that animals are not in distress.
“Our role is to ensure, whether you are an individual or a business, whether you own a cat or an iguana, it is receiving care and remaining free from distress as the law requires.”
Hopcraft is declining to talk to the media.
But on his Facebook page he said he wanted to clear up some of the allegations.
On the claim there was a bearded dragon with four broken legs, Hopcraft wrote, “To my and my staff’s knowledge, there was no such bearded dragon and we are not sure where that information is coming from.”
He added there is a “huge difference between broken limbs and limbs affected by metabolic bone disease,” saying a vet may diagnose it as fractures depending on the severity of the condition.
As for the overcrowding concerns, Hopcraft said there is a “double standard.”
He wrote, “Are some of my animals over crowded and being kept in enclosures that are too small? For a long term situation, yes.
“Our isolation snakes are kept in smaller enclosures as they are not here long term. This is the same as the SPCA keeping adult cats in 2x2x2 cages or dogs in 6-8 foot cages. Is it ideal? No, but it is what is necessary in order to take in the animals and find them new homes.”
He also addresses more concerns in his post.