January 22, 2010
Last week, several of us who worked on the SPCA Bake Sale had the opportunity to tour the SPCA of Texas’ new facility. We met the Chairman of the Board at our 2008 sale, and he offered us a tour but we never made the time to do it until our 2009 sale was behind us. We expected to see kitties and puppies, and were worried that we’d all leave with our arms full of furkids. What we didn’t expect to see was a facility full of 27,000 exotic animals.
You might have heard about the largest animal rescue ever in US history. A PETA investigator went undercover for 7 months in an exotic animal store, US Global Exotics, who sold to pet stores and chains like Petco and Petsmart. After gathering evidence of the neglect and abuse going on there, the investigator blew the whistle on the business.
On December 15, 2009, Arlington Humane Services swooped into the facility with a seizure warrant, with assistance from the SPCA of Texas and the Humane Society of North Texas. It took these agencies over 14 hours to rescue the thousands of animals. Many were already dead or dying, including over 200 iguanas who had been packed up for a trip to Egypt and then were left for 2 weeks with no food or water when the order was canceled.
Three days prior to the seizure, the SPCA began preparing a facility to receive all of these stressed animals. You can read more about the incredible lengths they went to in this Examiner article.
What kind of animals are we talking about? Turtles, snakes, tarantulas, scorpions, geckos and iguanas and all kinds of lizards, crabs, hamsters, rats, frogs, mice, gerbils, ground squirrels, sugar gliders, ferrets, guinea pigs, flying squirrels, coatimundis, agoutis, chinchillas, prairie dogs, hedge hogs, mini possums, ring-tailed lemurs, sloths, wallabies, and kinkajous.
Here’s SPCA of Texas President James Bias describing the situation in a local news video:
We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of animals we saw. Can you even begin to fathom what 27,000 exotic animals looks like? Then add to that the incredible variety of animals…over 500 species. Then imagine what all of those poor animals went through. It was really too much to comprehend. We were very grateful to have the chance to see all of these animals up close, but extremely sad that they were in this warehouse after this horrible experience, instead of roaming wild in their native habitat. At the same time we were thankful that the SPCA was taking such good care of them.
None of these animals will be available for adoption. They will be placed with accredited zoos, sanctuaries and rescue organizations.
So how can you help?
- The SPCA of Texas is currently spending approximately $8,000 to $10,000 a day to provide proper nutrition and habitat for these creatures and it could take months before they are all safely placed. The cost of this rescue will be enormous. You can help by donating to the SPCA online at www.spca.org.
- Volunteer if you’re in the area. With so many involved in the care of the 27,000 exotics, volunteer assistance is needed now more than ever. For volunteer information, visit www.hsnt.org or www.spca.org.
- Never ever buy an animal from a store! Adopt from a rescue group or shelter.
Thanks to PETA, SPCA of Texas, Humane Society of North Texas, the judge who awarded custody of these animals to the City of Arlington, and to all of the vets, workers, volunteers and everyone else involved in the rescue and care of these animals. God bless all of you!