November 24, 2018 2:35 pm
Updated: November 26, 2018 12:30 pm

Alberta Animal Rescue Society says man who ‘found’ 15 cats misled them

WATCH: It was a story that generated outraged across the province: two containers of cats found on the side of a highway in central Alberta. But now, the man who said he found them is saying he made the story up because he couldn't find a shelter that would take in the animals. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.

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A Calgary animal rescue is calling it “an act of desperation.”

The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) said they were contacted by a man who claimed to have found two plastic bins with more than a dozen cats inside.

Now, they said, he’s “recanted his statement.”

He originally told the group that he had found two Rubbermaid bins on Thursday, sealed with duct tape with air holes drilled into them. The discovery was apparently made by the railroad tracks near Stettler.

Deanna Thompson with AARCS said they were shocked to learn that wasn’t true.

Some of the cats pictured at AARCS on Saturday.

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“The cats were owned by a family member that was unable to care for the cats,” Thompson said. “[There was] a large number of cats in the home with children, etc., and he wanted to help out. [He] couldn’t find anywhere for the cats to go, so he made up the story.”

She said the organization now believes the cats were transported in the bins between homes, but that the animals were not trapped in them for an extended period of time.

READ MORE: Cats found in containers belonged to family that reported them, says Calgary animal shelter

While the reaction to the news on social media has been mixed, Thompson said she believes the man is genuinely sorry.

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“He really wanted to be able to help the cats and help his family,” Thompson said. “He was desperate. I don’t think he believed that it would blow up to this extent. When he heard it on the radio in the morning he said he just felt sick to his stomach and eventually came forward to say that it wasn’t true.”

The Alberta SPCA has confirmed their investigation is continuing, but spokesperson Dan Kobe said it’s unclear how long that process could take. Kobe also explained that while the Animal Protection Act in Alberta does outline rules against obstructing their officers, there is nothing specific to falsifying a report.

WATCH: The 15 container cats, seen below in paper collars, will remain in the care of the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society until the Alberta SPCA determines next steps.

Thompson said she is thankful that the animals are now in their care, but added that there is an ongoing issue with the animal population not just in Alberta, but right across the country.

“We have a crisis on our hands with cats. They reproduce so quickly and they don’t hold the same value for society,” Thompson said. “So, investing in spay and neuter for some people is unattainable or just something they don’t want to spend money on.

“It’s causing a problem,” Thompson continued. “People will let animals have just one litter and then they’ll find homes for the kittens. Well, those kittens go on to have more kittens and more kittens and there just is not enough homes.”

READ MORE: Calgary animal shelter issues plea as it hits capacity with stray cats and dogs

Thompson said there are a few programs that will provide spaying and neutering services at reduced rates, but those are concentrated in the major centres around Alberta. She thinks more effort to bring those services to rural communities is needed.

The 15 cats that were discovered will remain in the care of AARCS until the Alberta SPCA determines what is next.

Thompson said one of the adult cats appears to be pregnant, so they could have another litter of kittens to deal with. Otherwise, the cats and kittens currently in their care are being treated for some minor medical issues, but are “well on their way to recovery.”

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