The Reptile Guy’s Rescue and Education Centre may still remain open.
Five days after owner Mike Hopcraft announced on Facebook that the facility will close on Nov. 19, he created a new post hoping to raise enough funds to keep it open.
In his Nov. 10 post, Hopcraft wrote “We don’t want to let this place go as we have had four people needing us to take in their animals since we made our post about closing.”
He went on to say “Together, we can save our rescue and keep a safe place for unwanted reptiles and other small exotic animals.”
He is asking people to make donations in the hope that he can raise the $25,000 he needs to keep the facility running.
“If even half of the people who have liked our page donated just $10 we can make this happen.
“Donations can be made via Paypal or email transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org, in person at our facility or you can call in with a credit card,” he wrote.
On Nov. 5, Hopcraft posted a less hopeful message which announced the pending closure of the centre.
“As many of you know, 11 months ago our rescue was the subject of an unfortunate series of allegations by the BCSPCA followed by an endless attack from an animal rights group. As of today, the allegations have gone nowhere and there has never been a follow up inspection,” he wrote.
Hopcraft went on to write that the allegations made by the BCSPCA – and the national media coverage that came with it – severely damaged the centre’s name. As a result, the centre has “suffered a steady decrease in bookings” for the education program, which he said is the “sole means of funding for our rescue.”
He wrote that the centre has now fallen behind with almost all of its bills, including rent, and the only way to continue operating would be to raise $25,000 in the next few weeks, which he called “not feasible.”
With the decision made to close the centre, Hopcraft indicated that he and his staff are concerned about the animals’ welfare.
“It scares us to know that there will not be a place that can take in the volume of unwanted, abandoned or injured reptiles, amphibians, arachnids and other small exotic animals that we have been able to do for so many years.”
As for the animals currently housed at the rescue, Hopcraft wrote that they will be starting to find homes in the next few weeks, but it will take time.
“We ask that you please not ask for animals until we begin making posts about adoptions.”
In July of 2015, Hopcraft relocated his Abbotsford-based rescue centre to downtown Mission. By December of that year, the SPCA had executed four warrants on the property and confiscated several animals.
Charges were originally recommended in January 2016 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Court documents – the search warrant and information to obtain a search warrant – were made public by an animal activist group and state that the SPCA received a complaint from an ex-employee at the reptile centre, including photographs of animals in distress.
Allegations included animals enclosed in unsanitary conditions, dead animals, underweight animals, animals without water, a fungal infection, overcrowding and animals in critical distress.
The SPCA wouldn’t comment on the case in particular, but did confirm that despite the fact almost 11 months have passed, no charges have been filed yet.