Homeless Kootenay woman who left cats in 45C tent loses appeal | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Homeless Kootenay woman who left cats in 45C tent loses appeal

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A homeless Kootenay mother and daughter have lost an appeal to have their four cats returned after the animals were discovered living in a tent in 45C heat.

According to an Oct. 19 B.C. Farm Industry Review Board decision, the mom and daughter, Melissa Hoekstra and Amanda Simpson were living in a tent on an unserviced campsite near Cranbrook when a nearby camper reported they were concerned about the cats being left in a hot tent for up to 48 hours.

The B.C. SPCA investigated and measured temperatures in the tent at 45 C.

The decision says Hoekstra and her adult daughter Simpson were homeless and had been staying at the site since May 2022.

The pair admitted their four cats Minners, Munchkin, Oreo, and Tigger, were left in the tent for six to eight hours at a time while they went to work, but denied leaving the animals in the tent for two days at a time.

The decision says the B.C. SPCA received the complaint on Aug. 2, a day when the temperature was 37 C.

The B.C. SPCA visited and spoke to Simpson who said the cats were fine and slept under cots in the tent where it was cooler.

However, the B.C. SPCA officer recorded the temperature at 45 C in the tent and 45 C under the cots in the tent.

The decision says the cats were all obese and didn't have enough room to "withdraw" from each other.

The B.C. SPCA gave the mother and daughter five days to fix the situation.

The B.C. SPCA returned five days later and found a tarp had been placed over the tent, but a temperature reading still found the tent at 27 C at 8 p.m.

The cats were then seized by the B.C. SPCA.

In a twist of irony, while the cats were now housed, the mom and daughter were still homeless living in a tent.

Hoekstra and Simpson argued the cats had access to food and water and were taken on a walk on a leash every other day.

However, witnesses camping nearby said they had never seen the cats go for walks, and the mom and daughter had stayed away for 48 hours at a time.

READ MORE: B.C. SPCA seizes homeless dog, but owner still homeless

A Kelowna vet brought in to assess the cats said they were "morbidly overweight" and showing signs of both tooth and joint discomfort.

The vet testified that Oreo, who weighed more than 30 lbs, was the largest cat he'd seen in more than 20 years of practice.

Minners had to have seven teeth removed.

Hoekstra testified that the cats had been born feral but they were well looked after, never neglected, and were never in distress.

However, the Review Board disagreed.

"(Hoekstra and Simpson) argue that the animals were not in distress and should be returned to their care," the decision reads. "The evidence, however, is that the animals were confined for periods of time of up to 48 hours over several days in a tent during very hot weather."

The Review Board goes on to say that Simpson had argued the cats were well cared for at the time of the seizure and had not put forward any evidence of why the cats would be better cared for if they were returned.

"She noted that she misses the animals and that she is attached to them," the decision reads. "She offered nothing about meeting the animals’ needs or what changes she would make to improve their health or circumstances."

Ultimately, Hoekstra and Simpson lost their appeal to have their cats returned and were ordered to pay $5,857 in costs.

READ MORE: Homeless man wins appeal after dog seized by B.C. SPCA

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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