Accusations have been levelled at Laurie Wheeler, who runs Homeless Animal Rescue Team, that she steals outside cats which are domesticated and owned by an individual and then re-homes them without telling the new “owner” the background story.
It appears that Wheeler justifies her actions by saying:
“Some call it stealing cats, call it what you want but if you can’t look after them and I can do something about it I will. That’s a promise.”
In this quote, taken I believe from the CBC News website, she appears to be saying that she has the right to abduct outside cats because she feels that they are not been looked after properly and therefore feels they need new owners. She claims that she is saving the lives of cats. She said: “[Her organisation] is very successful at saving lives”.
Apparently there been 10 incidents of cats being taken by this organisation and adopted into new homes without, it is alleged, the knowledge or consent of the owner of the cats concerned.
This is all taking place in Aylesford, Nova Scotia, Canada. Homeless Animal Rescue Team have a Facebook page (believed to be their FB page). There are several animal rescues with the same name unfortunately.
When challenged Wheeler appears to say that the true owner of the cat has made a mistake in not recognising their own cat. Another defence that she purportedly uses is that ownership of cats can become very tricky when a cat is “rescued” and then re-homed. If the original owner comes forward there are often disputes about true ownership. Rescue organisations fail to step in and they can be obstructive under the circumstances. There are quite a few cases of this happening.
The truth of the matter is that in this instance the true owner retains ownership of her domestic cat that was allegedly stolen by this woman. That ownership cannot be taken away from her in this manner. This is a clear black-and-white situation. Therefore, I have argue that Wheeler is engaging in theft if the accusations are correct.
Regrettably, the SPCA told a woman whose cat was allegedly stolen that they couldn’t do anything about it because they would not intervene in animal disputes. Wheeler, I would allege, is aware of the difficulties and uses them to get away with what she’s doing which if proven is both immoral and a crime.
It is, however, extraordinary that a cat rescue organisation, listed on Facebook, feels compelled to take the cats of others and re-home them pretending to do cat rescue work. This is obviously nothing to do with cat rescue. It seems that Wheeler objects so strongly to outside cats that she feels justified in stealing them.
Georgina Bailey’s cat went missing in Aylesford in 2013. She approached Homeless Animal Rescue Team but they denied any involvement. Bailey said that she saw her cat at Wheeler’s house.
She confronted Wheeler in person requesting that she return her cat. Bailey said that she was told that lots of cats lookalike and she refused to comply.
A year later Bailey received a telephone call from a veterinarian in Ontario who’d identified her cat through a microchip. Her cat had been adopted from a shelter in Aylesford, presumed to be Homeless Animal Rescue Team.
Bailey sought the assistance of the SPCA but they refused to help claiming that there was nothing that could be done in animal disputes.
There is a petition running presently. It starts with these words:
“The Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART) a rescue group in Aylesford, Nova Scotia, is sheltering three senior cats, named Willow, Keely and Esther, who have a loving home. Two are blind and have lived with their mom, Denise, for many years, who is known for how much she loves her girls…”