SPCA searching for clues after starving and dehydrated cat found taped inside box

The Prince Albert SPCA is searching for information about the person who abandoned a starving and dehydrated cat outside the Paw Print Inn on Wednesday.

Staff discovered the cat, which they named Arnold, when they arrived for work at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday morning. Arnold was inside a box that was taped shut, and suffering from dehydration, ear mites, and renal failure, among other health concerns. He was humanely euthanized after a local veterinarian determined there was no way to rescue him.

“(We were) absolutely terrified to see this cat in there,” SPCA manager Ashlee Bober said during an interview on Thursday. “First off, we don’t want to see an animal in a box outside our doors, let alone a cat that is severely skinny (and) is infested with ear mites. He was trying to meow at us and he literally could not get a single sound out of his mouth.”

“This cat was way too big for this box that we was put into,” she added. “He was literally crammed into it.”

Bober said it’s rare to see animals abandoned like this in front of or near the SPCA, but it does happen. There’s no pattern to the behavior, since staff have seen it occur from the middle of winter to the hottest days of summer.

Following this most recent case, the SPCA is encouraging residents to think twice about the practice. They’re also looking for information about the people responsible.

SPCA security cameras have footage of a vehicle arriving to drop Arnold off, but the licence plate is not visible.

“I don’t want people to feel that it’s necessary or appropriate to put them in a box outside of a shelter, or any facility for that matter,” Bober explained during an interview on Thursday. “I mean, there are people to reach out to.”

The SPCA isn’t sure if Arnold was someone’s pet, or if he was a stray that was found and left outside the shelter. Regardless, Bober said leaving animals inside boxes that are taped shut is unacceptable.

The primary concern is extreme temperatures or harsh weather, which can kill or severely injure the animals before the SPCA can rescue them. However that’s not the only problem.

Bober said there’s no guarantee staff will immediately notice the boxes either, and added that animals left inside will often try to escape and run into the bush.

“This is something that our animal protection officers would actually look into and investigate and then try to create a case,” she explained. “(They will) try to get to the bottom of it, figure out who did it, … figure out the story behind the animal, ultimately, and not let it happen again, hopefully.”

The SPCA has control officers who deal with stray animals in the city, but Bober is concerned residents sometimes get impatient waiting for them to arrive. In this case, Arnold was dropped off at the SPCA before the animal control officers started their shift.

Bober hopes that in future situations, residents will wait patiently and keep the animals until staff arrives at the shelter or an officer can pick them up. If it’s an emergency, she suggests residents call city bylaw officers or the police.

“It could be the difference between life and death for that animal,” Bober said. “Just have some patience and wait for the officers to get to the shelter to start their shift, rather than just leaving the animal outside, because being out in the cold temperatures for little Arnold did not do him any good. In fact, it made his situation and conditions a lot worse.”

Abandoning animals is not allowed under the City of Prince Albert’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw, and can result in a fine of $200 for a first-time offence. Section 19(b) states “no person shall abandon any animal on the property of an animal shelter without formally surrendering such an animal to an animal shelter, and paying all surrendering fees as charged by an animal shelter.”

Anyone who knows anything about Arnold or the person who left him at the SPCA is encouraged to call 306-763-6110.

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