The Nova Scotia SPCA has charged repeat offender Gail Benoit under the Animal Protection Act, after she sold two kittens to a Nova Scotia man.
Justin Killen has always wanted to own a Maine Coon cat, so when he saw one listed on Kijiji, he jumped at the chance to buy one.
He ended up meeting Benoit in a parking lot and bought what he believed was a male kitten. The seller called back the next day and offered to sell a second male cat.
While Killen loves his two new family members, it turns out they’re neither Maine Coon nor male, and didn’t have the necessary veterinary certificate of health.
“Maine Coon kittens, simply stunning. That’s what she advertised them as,” Killen said Thursday.
“What I got was something that’s probably similar to a Maine Coon, they might have Maine Coon in them, but definitely not purebred.”
Killen says he spent nearly $500 on the two cats.
He says he doesn’t mind the fact the cats aren’t purebred and a veterinarian confirmed they were healthy. However, he is dismayed to have discovered the seller has been convicted of animal cruelty in the past.
The Nova Scotia SPCA ended up investigating Killen’s case, and charged Benoit with selling animals without a veterinary certificate of health, and refusing to furnish information required by an Inspector or Peace Officer in the exercise of power or performance of duties.
Cruelty investigator, Karen Pickering, initially visited Benoit on Tuesday with RCMP.
“We went on Tuesday afternoon. We attempted to serve her with charges then but due to the nature of the incident, we were unable to so yesterday she was finally served with the summons to appear in court,” she said.
This is far from the first time Benoit has been charged under the Animal Protection Act.
In 2009, she and her partner were convicted of animal cruelty for selling sick puppies. 10 other puppies were seized from their home.
At the time, Global News conducted an investigation and heard from a number of people who had purchased dogs from Benoit but said the animals were either sick or not what had been advertised.
Most recently in 2013, she was charged with fraud, theft under $5,000 and identity fraud for selling two dogs that she was supposed to be dogsitting.
All this prompted Joan Sinden, who runs an animal rescue, to create a website meant to warn other prospective pet owners about Benoit.
“She’s been banned three or four times now at least from owning or selling any kind of companion animal but it’s always just for a limited amount of time. She’s never been banned for life,” Sinden said.
“It would be nice if a judge had the foresight to place a lifetime ban on her.”
Benoit does have a lifetime ban from selling animals on Kijiji. A spokesperson from the website told Global News the ban has been in place for a couple years now due to numerous violations of Kijiji policy.
Shawn McIntyre goes on to explain the website has a robust filtering system and staff members who investigate suspicious ads, however, she was able to make a post under a different name.
The Nova Scotia SPCA is asking anyone who may have bought an animal from Benoit to contact them. They’re also warning people to be careful when buying pets online and to make sure they receive a veterinary health certificate.
Benoit is scheduled to appear in Dartmouth court on April 19 to face the latest charges.