On December 15, 2009, Arlington Animal Services, with assistance from the Humane Society of North Texas and the SPCA of Texas, served a seizure warrant on US Global Exotics alleging inhumane treatment and unsanitary living conditions for the 27,000 exotic animals inside the 5,000 square foot building. Hundreds of the animals were found dead and thousands more were dying. They suffered from cruel confinement, overcrowding, and lack of food, water, and veterinary care. It took staff from the three agencies, working together with veterinarians and experts from around the country, more than 14 hours to rescue and transport the animals to safety.
But that wasn’t the beginning. Three days earlier, at the request of the City of Arlington, the SPCA of Texas began the enourmous task of preparing temporary care and sheltering for the animals. What the SPCA and HSNT staff and volunteers accomplished in just 72 hours is truly inspiring. A 20,000 square foot, unused warehouse was chosen to house the animals and builders immediately began dividing the huge space into three areas – small mammals, amphibians and reptiles, and large mammals. An HVAC contractor began work to upgrade the heat delivery system and set up three distinct zones to provide the right amount of heat and humidity for each type of animal. Electrical contractors worked for days running electricity and installing hundreds of heat lamps. Aquariums, tubs, tanks, and cages were purchased, bought, and installed. Greenhouses, ponds, and pools were set up and prepared. Sawdust, sand, logs, rocks, boxes, and small mammal houses were delivered and dozens of habitats were created to nurture the animals and provide them the physical and mental care they required for their recovery. Food had to be ordered and shipped in – everything from vegetables to crickets to chicken meat to specially developed meals from suppliers that normally cater to zoos and aquariums. Veterinary care stations were set up in each zone, hoses were run to provide water for drinking and for a special turtle-watering system, and anti-bacterial foot baths were strategically placed to prevent the spread of disease. The hard work, ingenuity, imagination, and expertise put into sheltering these animals is truly amazing. “The sheer volume of animals in this seizure was unlike anything I’ve seen before in more than 30 years working in the animal welfare field” said James Bias, President of the SPCA of Texas.
Import and export of exotic animals is something you don’t often read about and many people don’t realize exists in our country. But these companies do exist and they make millions of dollars satisfying the seemingly insatiable market for exotic animals. US Global Exotics specizalized in shipping exotic animals to customers across the globe, processing orders on the Internet via the company’s now defunct website www.usglobalexotics.com. According to the SPCA of Texas, “Purchasers are often not aware of the horrific conditions in which these animals live.” Industry regulation does exist, but it wasn’t enough to prevent these animals from suffering horribly. As an editorial in the Fort Worth Star Telegram pointed out ” if conditions at the company really do reflect industry standards, it is a profoundly troubled industry.”
It has been four weeks now and the animals are settling in well. Staff and volunteers from the SPCA of Texas and the Humane Society of North Texas, along with species-specific experts and vets continue to care for them around the clock. Experts note their stress levels have dropped remarkedly and their personailites are beginning to emerge. One expert testified that 80% of the animals were sick and dying at the time of the seizure, but now 80% or more are healthy and out of danger.
How can you help?
1. The SPCA of Texas is currently spending approximately $ 8,000 – $ 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 enourmous. You can help by donating to the SPCA online at www.spca.org.
2. Both the SPCA of Texas and the Humane Society of North Texas rely on volunteers to help with care for homeless animals, raise money, and coordinate special events. 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.
3. According to Sandy Grambort of the Humane Society of North Texas, “Like puppy mills, if the consumer were to practice better choices, the industry could be dealt a strong blow, thus serving to protect countless animals, many of which are still in their natural wild environment.” That says it all.
For more info: Arlington Animal Services seizes nearly 20000 exotic animals from import/export-company, Judge rules animal seized from US Global exotics treated cruelly and will not be returned
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