A model has spoken of her horror after the police raided her home to try to kill a cat they say was smuggled into the country illegally.
Police in Belgium stormed the family home of a former Miss Belgium 2020 finalist who was looking for a kitten she had brought to the country from Peru.
In the incident earlier this week, officers showed up at Selena Ali’s home, along with an inspector from the Federal Food Safety Agency (FASFC).
Agents came to pick up her kitten named Lee to put it to sleep because of the risk of it having an illness.
Selena was doing an internship in the city of Cuzco, Peru when the coronavirus pandemic broke out and she was forced to return home.
The model was repatriated by the Belgian government on a flight from South America, while the adorable kitten she adopted from a Peruvian cat cafe also went for the ride.
She did not know that the moggie would become the center of attention, argue and attract national media coverage in her home country.
Belgian officials of the FASFC ordered that her beloved pet be put down because they think the animal is at risk of bringing rabies into the country.
Officials classify Peru as a high-risk location for the disease and claim that there are not enough tests in Belgium to ensure that the animal is not infected.
But when the police came with a vet to carry out the punishment, the cat was nowhere to be found and Ali – a student of applied psychology at the Thomas Moore School in Antwerp – refused to say where the animal was hiding.
She had been given until May 11 to put the controversial cat to sleep.
She told local media about the incident on Tuesday afternoon at around 5 PM: “I was very shocked, especially since I was home alone. A policeman came in, even though my lawyer was not there yet. “
After that, the girl and her lawyer Anthony Godfroid went to the police station for questioning.
She added, “We left because the police had no warrant for arrest.”
The news caused a public outcry in Belgium and so far more than 25,000 people have signed a petition to save the cat’s life, including none other than Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare, Ben Weyts.
Weyts claims that there is no need to put the traveled cat to sleep and that the cat should be quarantined instead.
He said: “The reaction is exaggerated. A search for a cat? That sounds like a bad Belgian joke.”
Weyts added, “If there is an alternative route to avoid euthanasia, we should follow it.”
Officials claim alternatives were offered, including temporarily placing the cat under the care of a friend in Peru while the owner was in Belgium.
However, Selena chose to take her cat on the plane.
Selena claims that if she made a mistake, she should be punished for it and not the cat.
Weyts says that he now plans to write a letter about this to the minister responsible for the FASFC.