By Owen Munro
Mike Hopcraft says he’s ready to move on from the incident that nearly caused him to give up his Mission-based business.
It has been almost 10 months since animal cruelty charges were recommended against The Reptile Guy by the BC SPCA. But Hopcraft has yet to receive any new information from Crown counsel and believes the issue is all but closed.
“I’ve almost had to close my business down four times, yet I’m still here months later and there still hasn’t been any new charges,” Hopcraft said. “As far as I’m concerned, the whole investigation is done.”
The SPCA wouldn’t comment on the case in particular, but did confirm that no charges have been filed yet.
“Typically, counsel has a lot of backlog and that’s likely the reason no charges have been approved,” said Lorie Chortyk, SPCA’s general manager of community relations.
Charges were originally recommended in January 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 in June 2015, the SPCA received a complaint from an ex-employee at the reptile centre, including photographs of animals in distress.
The documents alleged a series of concerns regarding animals kept in his 1st Avenue storefront. The allegations included animals enclosed in unsanitary conditions, dead animals, underweight animals, animals without water, a fungal infection, overcrowding and animals in critical distress.
Hopcraft believes such a lengthy investigation was overreaching, and he’s still feeling the effects of negative publicity on his business.