Two goats and an alpaca eye a visitor with curiosity at the Revelstoke Petting Zoo last week. ~ Photo by Alex Cooper, Revelstoke Review

SPCA seizes animals from zoo, horseback guiding company

Revelstoke Horseback Adventures says they were treating animals that were taken into custody

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took custody of several animals from Revelstoke Horseback Adventures and the Revelstoke Petting Zoo after attending the facility earlier this month.

But an employee of the business says the issue a matter of a difference of opinion on the care of the animals between the businesses owner and the SPCA.

The SPCA and RCMP attended petting zoo property, which is located just west of Revelstoke, with a warrant on Wednesday, Aug. 2, said Kathy Woodward, a senior animal protection officer with the SPCA. Revelstoke Horseback Adventures, which is owned by the same person, also kept several of its horses there.

“It’s an ongoing investigation so I can’t give a lot of information,” Woodward told the Review. “We have attended a few times in the last little while. We felt it was necessary to get a warrant and attend last week.”

When asked for details, Woodward said they received complaints there was inadequate food, water and shelter.

“As a result of our attendances, we did get a warrant and we did take custody of five horses, a miniature horse, a pig and a lamb,” she said. “From here we’ll be following up regarding the animals that remain on the property. We issued orders for their care. We’ll be following up to ensure he has complied with those orders.”

Woodward said the horses that were taken into custody were placed in foster care, while the other animals are under the care of the SPCA.

“We did issue orders for the remaining animals so we have to re-attend and check for compliance on that,” she said.

The Revelstoke Petting Zoo and Revelstoke Horseback Adventures are owned by James Richard Bruvall. The zoo was opened in mid-June and concerns were expressed at the time on Facebook about the lack of shelter for the animals. Bruvall responded, saying a shelter was being built and that there was soaker hoses present for the animals to cool down with.

Bruvall was out on a 10 day trail ride when we contacted him about the seizure, but his employee John McConnell responded to questions.

McConnell said the horses had white line disease, which is a fungus that can be found on a horse’s hoof. He said a farrier, which is a vet that specializes in horse hoof care, was treating it. “They were trying to treat it but they were still using the animals,” said McConnell. “It’s one of those things it’s a matter of opinion on it.”

McConnell said the horses were brought into the forest above the petting zoo when it got too hot out.

I went to the petting zoo last Wednesday at around 6 p.m. and there was still two pigs, two goats, a pony, an alpaca, and several chickens there. They were kept in wood-fence enclosures, and there was two small canvas tents for shelter. The animals were very excited to see me.

McConnell said the zoo was closed in late July due to lack of business, but the animals were being kept there because they couldn’t be taken to Bruvall’s ranches in either Galena or Kamloops due to wildfires.

“They’re sitting there until we can find the best place for them,” said McConnell.

There are no provincial regulations surrounding petting zoos, but Woodward said Bruvall could be charged under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for failing to provide adequate food, water, shelter and veterinary care to animals. No charges have been laid as of press time.

McConnell said the whole situation was very hard on Bruvall. “I think people understand the majority of his animals are rescue animals,” he said. “I’ve never known someone to care more about animals than he does about humans. I know it hit him very hard.”

McConnell said he and two other employees continue to feed the animals that are left at the zoo. He said he’s worked with Bruvall for a decade. “I’ve never seen anything that would suggest he mistreats his animals.”

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