District of Lillooet Bylaw Enforcement Officer Jennifer Davidson believes “human beings who are lacking humanity” are responsible for abducting or trapping pet cats on the Lillooet Heights and transporting them out of town to fend for themselves on Airport Road, Seton Lake Road and the Duffey Lake Road.
She told the News she also believes other people are killing cats in the same neighbourhood by shooting the animals with pellet guns or air soft rifles or running them over.
“There are several people who think it’s OK to take the law into their own hands,” said Davidson. “When you put domesticated animals up the Duffey or even up Airport Road, they basically become terrified to death and eaten. That is not a fair end. It’s unconscionable for someone to put an animal in harm’s way like that.”
Davidson said she doesn’t have physical proof or evidence to support her concerns. “People have witnessed certain things or people have admitted certain things, but I don’t have physical proof. I don’t have video camera evidence, but I have stories,” she told the News. She suspects two residents of the Heights are involved in relocating the pets and two others may be killing them.
It used to be that the remains of a dead cat would be found in Lillooet “once or twice or three times a month,” says Davidson. “But this is like every day or at least two or three times a week. That’s when you have to ask if there are natural predators coming into the area and picking off the cats, but if there were, you would hear it. The sound of a coyote attack is unmistakable – it sounds like there are 12 coyotes. So when there’s a kill, you would know it. Unless it’s a cougar, but I’ve spoken to Conservation and nothing seems to be out of the ordinary. So there’s some other cause.”
She said dogs are not disappearing in the same manner or at the same rate that cats are.
Davidson said she decided to go public with her concerns to warn pet owners about the potential danger their cats could be in.
“I’m telling everyone who’s a pet owner, if you love your animal, please keep it inside for now. It’s hard to catch feral cats, so whoever is catching domestic cats, they’re catching people’s pets and that’s sad.”
People living on Victoria, Columbia and Pine Streets, Park Drive, Panorama Lane and Panorama Terrace should be especially vigilant, she suggests.
Davidson told the News she is not a peace officer so she cannot enforce the SPCA’s animal cruelty regulations. She says if an animal is tethered, suffering or harmed, “all I can do is alert the SPCA in Kamloops” But the organization is reluctant to travel to Lillooet to investigate.
She also wonders if the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) could take a lead role in animal protection and safety in the Lillooet, Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish areas.
Lillooet RCMP say they received a complaint Oct. 5 that a cat had gone missing from the Lillooet Heights. The cat was spotted on the Duffey Lake Road by a logger who’d seen its photo on Facebook. The cat was injured and police suspect it was either shot with a pellet gun or stabbed with a sharp object. Thanks to the logger, the pet was reunited with it relieved owner.
“If the RCMP receive reports of any animal abuse or any criminal acts against an animal, we will investigate,” Cpl. Peter Koutougos told the News. “We will seek assistance from the SPCA or the Bylaw Enforcement Officer if necessary.”
Cruelty to animals is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and can be punished by a fine of up to $10,000 or a prison sentence of up to five years.