Photo Credit: AnimalHoardingInfo
Occasionally the legal system fails in truly spectacular ways, but sometimes the wheels of justice roll the way their supposed to.
A really bad situation has come to an end; thanks to Judge Smith, an undercover investigator from PETA, and some other witnesses who were brave enough to step forward.
One thing I want to mention before getting into details because it's definitely food for thought. The initial defense was that the facility was operated in accordance with industry standards of the exotic animal trade. The judge countered by replying, "While this may be true, this Court is not free to substitute those standards for the standards set by Texas statutes."
Think about that. 27,000 animals living in the stink of death, feces, and urine; watched over by 3 employees...and the place was operating within industry standards. Seems to me that the standards need to be reviewed and changed by people who actually care.
A business known as U.S. Global Exotics, owned by a corporation known as U.S. Global Exotics, Inc. was in the business of buying and selling exotic animals.
At the time the warrant for the animal seizure was acted upon (Dec. 15, 2009), there were approximately 27,000 animals (comprised of approximately 500 species) on-site.
During the seven-day trial, several witnesses testified about the conditions they observed at the Arlington, Texas facility
Listed below are some of the observations:
- At the time the animals were seized, U.S. Global Exotics had only three employees whose sole job duty was to care for the 27,000 animals. Among the experts who testified, opinions as to the number of employees that would be needed to care for this many animals ranged from 20 to 40.
- All of the animals were subjected to poor air quality, with most of the witnesses describing a constant stench of death, and with one witness also describing a strong ammonia odor resulting from urine.
- Many of the animals were housed in overcrowded conditions, including many types of animals that are solitary by nature and should not be forced into close proximity even with others from their own species.
- Many of the animals were unreasonably deprived of basic needs, such as food, water, clean bedding, and heat.
While many animals died while being "housed" at the location, the deaths were not seen as proof of cruelty because evidence received indicates that the death rate in the animal trade is generally high.
However, while the deaths couldn't be used as proof of cruelty, the stated observations concerning the living conditions was seen as cruelty towards the animals.
The court findings and ruling are:
Having considered the evidence and argument of counsel, this Court finds:
The jurisdictional requirements set forth in Chapter 821, Texas Health and Safety Code, have been met, and this Court has jurisdiction to hear this matter.
The Respondents cruelly treated all of the animals made subject of this hearing by cruelly confining the animals.
In particular, all of the animals were cruelly treated in one or more of the following manners: cruelly confined and injured due to such confinement; unreasonably denied necessary food and water; subjected for an extended period of time to food and/or water contaminated with foreign substances including but not limited to feces and urine; held in enclosures inappropriate for the animals in size and design; overcrowded in enclosures; held in shipping containers for extended periods of time without proper care, including but not limited to denial of necessary food, water, and veterinary care; subjected to conditions that promoted fighting and cannibalism; and denied necessary veterinary care.
Respondents failed to employ sufficient personnel to adequately care for the animals.
The City did not present any evidence detailing the costs incurred in housing and caring for the animals during their impoundment, so Respondents are not required to pay any such costs.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
Pursuant to Texas Health and Safety Code § 821.023(d), U.S. Global Exotics, Inc., and, to the extent that they may have an ownership interest, Jasen Shaw and Vanessa Shaw, are hereby divested of ownership of the animals in question and deprived of all right, title and interest in the animals.
Pursuant to Texas Health and Safety Code § 821.023(d), the City is given the animals and is ordered to sell the animals at a public sale by auction, have the animals humanely euthanized, or give the animals to a non-profit animal shelter, pound, or society for the protection of animals.
Respondent U.S. Global Exotics, Inc. is ordered to pay costs of court, including the costs of the transcript for appeal.
Bet you saw this coming
Of course, an appeal is expected. It hit them in their pocketbook and they're not going to lose all that "easy money" without a fight.
Disclaimer: The Houston Pet Law Examiner provides general legal information only. Please consult an attorney for legal advice.