Hundreds of Small Animals That Were Supposed to Be Adopted May Have Ended Up as Frozen Reptile Food: Officials

Missing Small Animals
Hundreds of rabbits and guinea pigs are missing, humane society officials said.San Diego Humane Society

Hundreds of small animals shipped to Arizona to be adopted may have been killed and turned into food for snakes and other reptiles, humane officials said.

More than 200 animals, including rabbits and guinea pigs, that were shipped from California to Arizona to be adopted may have instead been turned into frozen food for snakes and other reptiles, humane society officials said.

Some 250 small animals are unaccounted for after they were transferred to an Arizona facility, ostensibly to be put up for adoption, according to the San Diego Humane Society and the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

In August, the overcrowded San Diego agency transferred some 300 rats, mice, guinea pigs and rabbits to the Tucson-based animal rescue in a joint effort to find homes for the animals, officials said. The animals were then sent to a private facility near Phoenix, where they were supposed to be adopted, officials from the two humane societies said Thursday in a joint press conference.

The animals were sent to a company called the Fertile Turtle, run by Colten Jones, where they may have ended up as frozen reptile food, the officials said.

“We could not have conceived something like this happening in connection with our organization,” Humane Society of Southern Arizona board chair Robert Garcia said at a news conference Thursday. “I’m heartbroken for the animals, I’m heartbroken for our community, I’m heartbroken for our organization whose mission it is to protect and save animals.”

Jones ultimately returned 62 of the animals to the Tucson humane society, leaving about 250 rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and mice unaccounted for, the officials said. The missing animals resulted in the Arizona society firing its chief executive officer and accepting the resignation of its chief programs officer, officials said.

Garcia said Jones contacted investigators for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona on Wednesday and denied the allegations. Internal probes at the Tucson facility and the San Diego rescue are ongoing, the officials said.

Inside Edition Digital reached out for comment to Jones on Monday.

The Tucson Police Department has said it is investigating the missing animals.

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