December 6, 2023
Steve Farley, former CEO of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Photograph credit score: Display shot, Information 4 Tucson KVOA, by way of YouTube

Lots of of small animals relocated from San Diego to Southern Arizona earlier this 12 months had been offered to a reptile breeder who sells dwell and frozen animals as meals, officers stated Thursday.

The scenario has led to the firings of two high Humane Society of Southern Arizona officers and threats of authorized motion.

In August, San Diego Humane Society crews transferred over 300 animals to the Tucson-based Humane Society as native shelters had been over capability.

However the whereabouts of round 250 of the 318 transferred animals, which included guinea pigs, rats, hamsters and rabbits, quickly grew murky.

Humane Society officers in San Diego stated they had been advised the animals had been transferred to a single nameless personal rescue, however no proof was offered over the following few months as to the place the animals had been.

The Tucson group later fired its CEO – a former state legislator – and accepted the resignation of its chief packages officer over the problem.

The board of administrators stated the company’s former CEO, Steve Farley, had assured the board that the animals had been moved to “a personal family-run group in Maricopa County that had robust group assets and connections, and that, to keep away from animals being dumped at their doorstep, didn’t need its info to be made public.”

In a joint assertion issued Thursday, each San Diego and Southern Arizona officers say the majority of the animals had been transferred to a person named Colten Jones, who runs a reptile breeding firm referred to as the Fertile Turtle.

Whereas 62 animals had been returned to the Tucson group, the destiny of the remaining animals is unsure.

Nonetheless, in a lately uncovered textual content message despatched someday after receiving the animals, Jones sought assist from somebody “in processing a excessive quantity of guinea pigs and rabbits for meals,” the businesses stated.

“The board, workers and volunteers of HSSA and SDHS share our group’s outrage and this newest piece of data that clearly signifies Mr. Jones’ intention to make use of these animals as feed as an alternative of discovering them adoptive properties. We’re heartbroken for each considered one of these animals and each particular person who shares our concern for them,” the assertion learn.

In response to the assertion, each organizations are contemplating authorized motion. The Tucson-based group is predicted to publish a report subsequent month stemming from an inside investigation into the matter. San Diego officers say additionally they are trying into the scenario.

“These investigations and corresponding suggestions are essential to make sure this tragedy by no means occurs once more and that those that are accountable are held accountable,” the assertion learn.

– Metropolis Information Service