Over 100 Charges Laid After 700 Captive Reptiles Found Dead or Suffering

A shocking discovery of nearly 700 reptiles found either dead or severely neglected was made after emergency responders arrived at a house fire in Edmonton. The reptiles who were found dead were presumed to have died long before the fire took place.

The reptiles were owned by John Makaryshyn, who is now facing 37 charges of criminal animal cruelty, and 89 charges under the Animal Protection Act of Alberta. The charges include willfully permitting or causing unnecessary pain to an animal and failing to provide an animal with adequate shelter, ventilation, or space.

“When we think of ‘animal cruelty’ our minds almost always go to cats and dogs; this investigation is a sad reminder of the suffering many exotic reptiles endure at the hands of breeders and importers,” said Edmonton Police officer Ilka Cunningham in a press release.

It’s disheartening but not surprising that the suffering reptiles likely wouldn’t have been discovered unless the fire took place.

Canada is notorious for having extremely weak exotic animal ownership laws. Most jurisdictions have no restrictions on owning many exotic animals, and members of the public can easily obtain these animals without licensing or training. When exotic pets are mistreated or neglected, they’re often hidden away in peoples’ homes, far away from public view.

But even in cases where care is taken to ensure the well-being of exotic animals, their complex needs simply can’t be met in captivity. The artificial and unstimulating environments in which they’re confined differ greatly from their natural environments, and sadly, the vast majority of captive exotic animals endure lives of sheer misery and boredom.

Canada is a major driver of the wildlife trade and has an undeniable roadside and mobile zoo crisis that desperately needs to be addressed.

All levels of government need to do more to protect exotic animals from the widespread cruelty they face in this country. Animal Justice has been working to help exotic animals by pushing for municipal action, stopping new private zoos from setting up shop, exposing hidden cruelty in roadside zoos, and by supporting an exciting new Senate bill that would be a huge step in the right direction.

The Jane Goodall Act is currently working its way through the Senate, and would outlaw most captivity of over 800 exotic animal species, and also grant some animals limited legal standing in court. Please show your support for the Jane Goodall Act and help ensure a brighter future for exotic animals in Canada!