SPCA investigating dead cat found with plastic baggie over its head in North Van

North Shore News

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Deborah Stockwell holds her dog, Sacha, while looking at a makeshift shrine for her cat, Ben. Neighbours have been dropping off tributes after Ben was found dead with a sandwich bag on its head in a ravine near Stockwell’s home. The owner believes her pet was the victim of foul play. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

Deborah Stockwell’s Maine coon cat, Ben, was found dead with a plastic baggie over its head earlier this month in a ravine off Mahon Park in North Vancouver, prompting the BC SPCA to investigate its death.

While the grief of losing her cat was already a lot to bear, what shocked Stockwell was the fact she found the cat in the exact position it was depicted in in the missing-cat posters. When Stockwell got home on the evening of Aug. 2, her cat was missing.

It was out of character for it not to be at home, she said, and she knew right away something was wrong. Ben knew its surroundings and never strayed far from the block it lived on.

Stockwell and a friend started putting up posters that night, staying up until 2 a.m. to get them around the neighbourhood.

The next day, she received a call from a man saying he thought he’d found the cat in the ravine. Stockwell headed out and found Ben, its head wrapped in a plastic sandwich baggie with blood on its nose and face.

But Stockwell was horrified to see her cat positioned with one arm under its body and one arm extended, just like it was in the posters she had put up the night before. Stockwell belives that her cat was the victim of foul play by humnas.

“I’m having nightmares over this,” Stockwell said. “I’m a nurse, I’ve seen horrific things, but this is out and out cruelty.”

Just prior to Ben’s disappearance, Stockwell had received permission from the group home where she worked to bring it in as a therapy cat, and he was well loved by the clients.

Everyone on the block knew her Maine coon cat, Stockwell explained, including the students at the school across the street from her house and the police who did radar checks on her block.

Ben also liked her pet yorkie and would go on walks with them and make sure the blind dog didn’t walk off the sidewalk. Stockwell said Ben looked like a Siberian tiger, with neon yellow eyes and a huge, fluffy tail.

“You get one cat like this in a lifetime,” she said. “This cat was everything to our family.”

Since Ben’s death, neighbours have been leaving tributes to the cat by Stockwell’s front door on their cat tree.

The cat was found just three metres behind a bus stop on Keith Avenue with its collar still on. Around the cat, Stockwell said she found drug paraphernalia including a can, a butane lighter and orange needle caps.

The SPCA can’t comment on an ongoing investigation, said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations with the BC SPCA, but she confirmed a necropsy was being performed on the cat to determine its cause of death.

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