Feb 242010
Authors: Lincoln Greenhaw

Following the largest exotic animal cruelty case in U.S. history, the Larimer Humane Society is trying to find homes for a collection of abused critters, while nursing them back to health.

Veterinarians cleared nearly all the surviving animals for adoption on Monday after the LHS took a shipment of more than 100 of the displaced leopard lizards, trinket snakes, dragon agamas and exotic hamsters.

This is something that highlights the work the society does with animal overpopulation of all kinds, LHS officials said.

“The Division of Wildlife had asked us to wait and hold off, so we did. We just got the OK to adopt them out,” said Bob Nightwalker, director of the society’s wildlife rescue program, “so now we’re calling people back.”

More than 26,000 animals were confiscated from U.S. Global Exotics, of Arlington, Texas, in December.

The Texas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will eventually ship the entirety of animals out to 50 shelters around the country.

“This is the worst any of us have ever heard of,” said Cary Rentola, an LHS program manager.

“When you think about pet overpopulation … you think of fuzzy cats and kittens and puppies,” Rentola said. “It definitely includes reptiles, amphibians, birds, small mammals.”

The Arlington Municipal Court ruling against the pet dealer said the animals were housed in crowded conditions that promoted fighting and cannibalism, in addition to being denied food, water and proper veterinary care.

Global Exotics was throwing more than 500 animals per day into the company’s dumpsters and approximately 80 percent of the animals on the premises were identified as sick and dying at the time of seizure, Clifford Warwick, an exotic animal specialist, said in a SPCA press release.

The LHS took delivery of more than 100 exotic animals, on Feb. 10. The shipment included leopard lizards, trinket snakes, dragon agamas, tree frogs and exotic hamsters, among others. Many of the animals had trouble during the chaotic move.

“We’ve lost six of the 10 frogs that we received … In this case, the company in Texas was overcrowding them,” Rentola said.

While a big part of the Humane Society’s mission is to deal with such cruelty and neglect, the people at the society say that most of those situations are avoidable.

“Many of them are preventable if somebody would just ask for help. … What we find is that people wait and get themselves in a situation where it’s now out of hand,” Rentola said.

The animal workers say some animals were just too much trouble for the Humane Society to accept, however.

“We don’t think that sloths should probably be pets,” Nightwalker said, “so we told them that we didn’t want the sloths.”

Staff writer Lincoln Greenhaw can be reached at news@collegian.com.

*More on the Larimer Humane society *
-Address: 6317 Kyle Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80525
-Phone: (970) 226-3647
-Web site: http://www.larimerhumane.org
-Hours: Monday through Friday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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