UPDATE, 9:15 a.m., Feb. 17: Dan Paden, senior research associate in the cruelty investigations department at PETA, wrote in saying that PETA has proof that PETCO purchased animals from U.S. Global Exotics. He says:
Testimony in the seven-day civil hearing before Arlington Municipal Judge Michael Smith confirmed that USGE sold animals to suppliers of PETCO and PetSmart. Many of the animals pulled out of USGE in the nick of time were headed to PetSmart and PETCO distributors—and PETCO and PetSmart store shelves—nationwide. Further, a PetSmart representative’s self-congratulatory announcement that the company donated money—a drop in the bucket spent by PETA and other nonprofit organizations working around the clock to get these animals out of harm's way and to provide them with the basic necessities of which they have been deprived—toward these “unfortunate” animals’ care rings hollow.
UPDATE, 3:30 p.m., Jan. 12: Bruce K. Richardson, corporate communications director for PetSmart, wrote in saying that PetSmart has never purchased animals from U.S. Global Exotics. He says:
We do not purchase pets from this supplier. On this subject, you might be interested to know that PetSmart Charities provided a financial grant of $10,000 to the Texas SPCA to help defray expenses associated with its rescue and care of these unfortunate animals and reptiles.
PETA maintains the allegation these chains received animals from Global Exotics. The discrepancy is reflected below.
On Dec. 15, more than 26,000 animals were seized by animal welfare groups and the city of Arlington, Texas, from U.S. Global Exotics, an online company that sold exotic reptiles and mammals to collectors and pet stores
— including PetSmart and PETCO, according to PETA — across the country. PETA discovered inhumane treatment through an undercover veterinary technician who documented animal mistreatment over a period of months.
PETA claims that PetSmart and PETCO bought from Global Exotics; PetSmart has denied the claim.
According to officials, this was the largest animal seizure in U.S. history.
Prior to the raid, Ann-Elizabeth Nash, executive director of the Colorado Reptile Humane Society of Longmont was consulted with the information and photographs for her expert opinion on proper reptile care. Nash was on-site during the seizure.
Nash was tasked with sorting through bagged and crated iguanas to separate the living from the dead. The animals were kept for over two weeks in the 58-degree warehouse without being removed from their shipping containers. She reports that 80% of the bags contained dead iguanas, some with mold growing on the dead bodies. She and 4 others captured more than 8000 other live lizards for removal from the business. Afterwards, Nash managed the vast number of lizards and snakes in a temporary off-site shelter.
Global Exotics was charged in a civil case with cruelty, which may result in felony charges. An appeal is possible, but if the ruling is upheld, the CoRHs will take some of the animals.
For more on the story, visit PETA's Web site here.