When the San Diego Humane Society in California despatched greater than 300 rabbits, guinea pigs and rats to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona in Tucson over the summer season, it thought they might be adopted as pets.
However a lot of the animals could have met a extra horrific destiny, resulting in anger, grief and police investigations.
In line with officers of the 2 humane societies, the 323 animals arrived in Tucson on August 7 however weren’t taken to the shelter.
As a substitute, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona transferred the animals to a person named Colten Jones, who runs a enterprise within the Phoenix space referred to as Fertile Turtle, which sells reside and frozen animals for feeding. reptiles, the 2 human societies mentioned in a joint assertion.
Officers on the two humane societies mentioned they have been investigating who organized the switch and what precisely occurred to the animals. The police mentioned that additionally they investigated the case as a “doable fraud” however no fees have been filed.
However a chunk of doable proof concerning the destiny of the animals emerged this month when a Tucson information station, KVOA, reported on a textual content message Mr. Jones despatched on Aug. 8, a day after when the animals arrive in Tucson.
“Do you may have the power to freeze a bunch of guinea pigs and or rabbits?” Mr. Jones wrote to a different particular person, who didn’t need to be publicly recognized, KVOA reported. “I haven’t got the manpower or labor to make it in time for the present and it is too time-consuming for me.”
The show apparently refers to an upcoming reptile present in Pomona, Calif., based on KVOA.
Mr. Jones didn’t return cellphone and textual content messages looking for remark.
The Southern Arizona and San Diego humane societies mentioned in a joint assertion that they have been outraged by “this newest piece of knowledge that clearly reveals Mr. Jones’ intent to make use of these animals as meals as an alternative of discovering adoptive houses.”
Gary Weitzman, the president and chief government of the San Diego Humane Society, referred to as it “probably the most horrific textual content I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“That is simply probably the most unimaginable final result,” he mentioned, including that if he had recognized the animals might be used as meals for the reptiles, he would by no means have agreed to ship them to Arizona.
“Nothing like this in my 30 years of animal welfare has ever occurred earlier than,” she mentioned. “It is simply horrible.”
He mentioned the San Diego Humane Society is trying right into a lawsuit and has employed a personal investigator.
“We requested him to do a broad sweep,” mentioned Mr. Weitzman. “What’s the motivation right here?”
Robert Garcia, the chairman of the board of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, mentioned his group had additionally employed an impartial investigator and was contemplating authorized motion in opposition to Mr. Jones and unnamed former staff “who could have been concerned.” .”
In October, the group mentioned it had fired its chief government, Steve Farley, an Arizona state lawmaker, and that its chief working officer, Christian Gonzalez, had resigned. The 2 “supervised” the switch of the animals, Mr. Garcia mentioned.
“The board decided that there was gross negligence on the a part of the earlier management to correctly vet the place these animals have been going and to ensure that, wherever they went, they have been adopted as pets,” Mr. Garcia mentioned.
Mr. Farley didn’t reply to requests for remark. He instructed The Related Press in a press release final month that he was in a roundabout way concerned within the transportation or placement of the animals and that “the following allegations are very troubling to me.”
Gonzalez didn’t reply to requests for remark.
Mr. Garcia mentioned the Humane Society of Southern Arizona is combating “betrayal and likewise grief.”
Considerations concerning the animals started to come up quickly after they arrived in Tucson, and native animal welfare activists started asking questions on their well being and welfare, Mr. Garcia mentioned.
As considerations concerning the animals mount, Mr. Jones’ brother, Trevor Jones, who has helped the Humane Society of Southern Arizona with a number of earlier animal adoptions, returned 64 of them to the society on Sept. 2, Mr. Garcia mentioned. However the remaining 259 haven’t been recovered, he mentioned.
“We’ve got to assume that the animals are used as feed,” mentioned Mr. Garcia.
Trevor Jones didn’t reply to cellphone messages looking for remark Monday.
The Human Society of Southern Arizona, mentioned Mr. Garcia, employed a brand new chief government.
“It is rather essential for the humane society to proceed its mission,” mentioned Mr. Garcia, “and we ask for persistence as we work to rebuild belief.”
Mr. Weitzman mentioned individuals who work in animal welfare are outraged and outraged on the thought that animals might be made meals for reptiles.
“We simply need the reality and accountability,” he mentioned. “We aren’t on the lookout for the rest.”
Susan C. Beachy contributed to the analysis.