The NWT SPCA is warning residents of what it’s calling a ‘kitten mill’ operating out of a home on Yellowknife’s Anson Drive.
In a Facebook post last Thursday, the organization said it’s been receiving complaints about the home from members of the community, and warned people not to buy kittens from the ‘obvious kitten mill.’
“That home is disgusting,” read one comment on the post.
“I lived beside them and they don’t feed the cats and all of the cats (eight of varying ages) are left to run free around the neighbourhood. I can’t imagine what it will be like for those animals once the really cold temperatures hit.”
Nicole Spencer, president of the NWT SPCA, says the mill has been operating for at least three years. Her organization was made aware of the house just this year.
“Recently there’s been a lot of activity on YKTrader from the same post that they’re selling kittens,” said Spencer.
According to her, the posts all follow the same formula – the kittens are advertised as not being vaccinated, and typically cost anywhere from $200 to $400 each.
“[The ads all list kittens of] different ages, from different litters for different amounts of money from the same home,” said Spencer. “That tells me that there’s something going on – a breeding situation.”
A comment on the SPCA’s Facebook post included a screenshot of three different advertisements on YKTrader matching that very description.
“Litter trained shots not included asking price is 75 or best offer, no they are not purebred. If you think the asking is too high please make an offer,” the ads read.
Spencer says she’s received varying reports on the conditions the cats are kept in from people who have visited the home.
“One person says that it seemed clean, it didn’t smell. But somebody else who’d been there a while ago had said that it was really bad … kind of dirty, especially around the outside.”
Spencer suspects many of the cats are being inbred, and calls this kind of treatment ‘unhealthy and cruel.’
“It’s a bad situation. It’s like a puppy mill, it’s not regulated, you don’t know what conditions the cats – adults or kittens – are in, and it could potentially be a health hazard.”
Spencer has contacted the RCMP and municipal enforcement about the kitten mill, but she claims there’s nothing either organization can do.
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No bylaws concerning the treatment of cats
In Yellowknife, bylaw No. 4755 (pdf) states that “no owner shall permit a dog in his or her charge to be in distress.”
The bylaw also gives officers permission to enter premises with a warrant and remove dogs should they believe them to be in distress.
However, none of these bylaws applies to cats, or any other animal.
“Under our bylaws, anything to deal with any other animals and cruelty would have to be investigated by the RCMP under the Criminal Code of Canada,” explained Doug Gillard, the city’s manager of municipal enforcement.
Gillard says unless someone is conducting a business where they have a website and are selling and breeding cats through that, there’s not much bylaw can do.
The only way someone could get into trouble is by running a business without a license.
“People who just own cats that have kittens and [sell them] as just an on-the-side thing, it’s not necessarily [a violation],” said Gillard, who admits the bylaw is a ‘grey area.’
In an email, the RCMP told Moose FM “the RCMP has received a complaint of an allegation of possible negligence to animals at a residence in the city. At this time, there is no evidence to proceed with a criminal investigation.”