26,400 Critters Thieved Under Color of Law

Let me start by saying this case simply doesn't pass the sniff test in many areas and I don't think we have anywhere near the whole story yet.  The first report I saw referred to taking "custody of.. creatures from... U.S. Global Exotics, a multi-million dollar business... The collection includes snakes, wallabys, tarantulas, turtles and hedgehogs."  However, the spinning of this into something closer to the "oh, the poor pathetic pets that must be rescued" is already under way.

Officials put the count of live animals counted Wednesday at 26,400.  (1)  The media calls them "exotics" and so do many who like to own them but I'd call them mostly vermin.  (Let's come back to what Texas law calls them.)  I want everyone who read this to be very clear about what kind of "animals" are involved.  "warehouse held mostly reptiles and rodents and also spiders, sloths and hedgehogs".  That's the description given by the Animal Control official (Jay Sabatucci, manager of animal services with the city of Arlington) apparently in charge of this seizure. These are animals that would normally live and die at the whim of nature and other animals.  There is nothing kind about nature nor the inherent actions of animals who feast upon other species and often their own.

"Among the animals that were still alive were lizards, a large variety of snakes, spiders and crabs, as well as sugar gliders, sloths, hedgehogs and prairie dogs, officials said. The animals, some quite valuable, have been taken to undisclosed locations for care."  Id. 1  Here we have a tip as to the reasoning for this seizure.  I mean, if you're going to go around snatching up other people's animals, why not go for the one's that will turn a profit?  And do it en masse, so much easier than going after individual and truly abused pets like cats and dogs that will most certainly cost money rather than make it!

"The city was tipped off recently by federal officials who had executed a warrant for another violation and reported concerns about the animals' conditions, Sabatucci said."  Id. 2.  Well, kinda, sorta, MAYBE.

"A veterinary technician working undercover for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at U.S. Global Exotics", "ranging from tiny frogs and turtles to sloths and kinkajous".  Id. 1  Let's be clear.  This individual was not working "undercover" as that implies some official capacity; this person is merely a "confidential informant", a narc, a different kind of RAT.  This person had a license to be on the property as an employee and collected wages, all after getting the job under inherently false pretenses (wanting to work when his/her true intent was to act as a spy).  Sounds like trespassing and fraud to me.  It may (or may not) be legal but it's most definitely sleazy at best.

"Sometimes animals die, but the amount of animals dead far exceeded what you would normally see at any company like this," said Jay Sabatucci.  (2)  Mr. Sabatucci, this is alleged to be the LARGEST seizure EVER.  You're a "dog guy" who doesn't get why people would want exotic pets so just how much knowledge of them do you have?  I'm guessing you don't really have very many businesses like this in your jurisdiction so exactly how the FREAK would you know that?

"smell of death inside the one-story tan building was overwhelming", "removed hundreds of carcasses" Id. 1  Oh, PLEASE, give me a break.  For those of you unfamiliar with death, it STINKS, the stench permeates - particularly fabric.  Human nursing homes and hospitals rapidly remove the dead and STILL have to fight of the lingering and persistent stench of death.  I have a couple of boxes of my father's belongings.  Unfortunately, he was found for a couple of days after his death and these boxes contain items that were in his home with his dead body.  30 years later and they still reek of death.  Those who deal with death on a regular basis know this.  That would include those dealing with animals in commercial breeding, sales, transport, etc.  It SHOULD include those in animal control and rescue.  That stench does not necessarily indicate anything pertinent nor even current.  Somehow I doubt the AC and AR types can even distinguish the difference between the smell of death and that of animal waste, the latter being far more likely what they were sniffing!

There is also a federal investigation which preceded the seizure and is ongoing.  The press is dancing around it so let me take their statement and simplify it.  "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department... had seized documents and computers... its investigation into whether animals... were falsely identified or labeled in violation of federal code"  Id. 1  Lousy labeling???  SNOOZE!!!  That so sounds like a bogus reason for getting in the business to bootstrap a call to the AC.  Now who was pushing for all this?  Let me guess: Perhaps it was that SLEAZE who got a job there by LYING about his/her wish to be an employee and his/her nasty PETA group?

I watched some of the news video on-line and saw them rolling large metal animal cages onto trucks and all I could wonder was whether those belonged to AC, SPCA of Texas, and/or HSNT or belonged to the business and were being snatched for their use right along with the animals.  See here here (that story mentions chinchillas!)  here.  You gotta love how far back they keep the media these days.  Surely wouldn't want any sunlight and cameras shining on these seizures.  That might be bad for business, the business of taking other people's property for your own benefit.

Only six to eight workers are employed to take care of the thousands of animals, said Chris Castoe, who identified himself as an employee who has been working at the business over the last eight months.  Why do I suspect Chris Castoe is the NARC from PETA? 

"The city has up to two years to decide if it wants to prosecute the owners criminally."  Id.  Well, of course, take the property and profit from it.  Nobody really cares about the criminal charges these days.  These civil seizure laws were intended to SUPPLEMENT criminal law, not to preemptively take property for profit.  I'm not the least bit sure it's any kind of due process unless they prove the criminal charges or at least their elements beyond a reasonable doubt PRIOR to awarding custody to a third party.  This civil seizure method is an end run around the heightened burden of proof and we all need to fight back about THAT.

I saw several references to dead animals, mostly about dead iguanas.  Even I who would crush one without thinking twice if it were in my yard and annoying me, would probably leave it be.  They are notoriously difficult to keep alive and even I know that.  Surely those in AC and "rescue" would know that common fact!

The Animal Control handling this has consulted with professionals around the country and is even flying in some from Britain which is apparently what it took for THEM to determine this business might not be in compliance with "guidelines".  Pray tell how a business owner, let alone regular citizen is to comply with laws so complex you need a multi-national team to decipher?

"moved to an undisclosed location"  Id.  That phrase is really starting to annoy me more every time I see it.  It implies that someone is intending to attempt to do something to the animals unless they are secreted away.  How exactly is someone going to snatch them if it took these nuts 12 hours to pack and load them up?  One would certainly hope they are somewhere that they are being tended 24/7 if they are in such terrible shape.  Come on.  Put up an internet surveillance camera to watch the place if you must but this secreting away of assets is absurd and offensive.  But, oh, yes, I forgot for a moment.  Quite a few of these animals are unlikely to survive even to the hearing, let alone beyond.  That is the SOP when these "humane" groups have custody, many of them die or are killed outright.  Somehow we never see those numbers in the media coverage but can only infer it from the numbers awarded at the hearings and the difference between that and the initial count.

"It was cheaper for him to let them die than to have someone take care of them."  And?  To put it harshly.  These are wild animals who would likely die an even worse death in nature, in the wild.  At least I think being eaten and knowing it would be worse than starving!  As for those animals eaten by other animals, that's just nature and it's likely what would have happened to them in the wild.

"Wild," when used in reference to an animal, means a species, including each individual of a species, that normally lives in a state of nature and is not ordinarily domesticated. This definition does not include exotic livestock defined by Section 161.001(a)(4), Agriculture Code.  TX Parks & Wildlife Code, Sec. 1.101(4).

"Exotic livestock" means grass-eating or plant-eating, single-hooved or cloven-hooved mammals that are not indigenous to this state and are known as ungulates, including animals from the swine, horse, tapir, rhinoceros, elephant, deer, and antelope families.  TX Ag. Code, Sec, 161.001(a)(4)

"Exotic fowl" means any avian species that is not indigenous to this state. The term includes ratites.  TX Ag. Code, Sec, 161.001(a)(5).  Id.  Interesting to side note that, as currently written, Texas law appears to consider all these fowl to be "wild animals".

We actually live in a balance with the wild animals here in Texas and we approve of destroying some of them.

"CONTROLLING PREDATORY ANIMALS AND RODENTS.  The state shall cooperate through The Texas A&M University System with the appropriate federal officers and agencies in controlling coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, Russian boars, and other predatory animals and in controlling prairie dogs, pocket gophers, jackrabbits, ground squirrels, rats, and other rodent pests to protect livestock, food and feed supplies, crops, and ranges."  TX Health and Safety Code.  We allow these predatory animals and rodents to be hunted, stalked, shot, and live trapped (and not with those lovely humane traps).

We make it an OBLIGATION of land holders to poison certain animals: "Each land holder whose premises are infested with any pests listed in Section 825.021 [prairie dogs, wildcats, gophers, ground squirrels, wolves, coyotes, rats, English sparrows, and ravens]shall obtain and apply the poison as provided in the plans furnished by the commissioner of agriculture."  Id.

Of course, we don't allow the citizens to profit from these killings and actually charge them for some of them :)  Ain't Texas sweet sometimes?  However, we do sometimes allow bounties.  "The commissioners court of a county may pay bounties for killing predatory animals not listed on any state or federal protected species list."  If you live in Texas, you should click that last link and scroll down to find your county.  You may need to check with your commissioners and get them to authorize bounties for whatever critters you're having problems with; even if it's a penny, you'll have a ruling that basically says it's OK to destroy that particular pest in your county!  I scrolled through and there's lots of critters pre-authorized by the state for destruction; from some of the critters mentioned above to rattlesnakes to rabbits to "raccoon, skunk, opossum, or other similar animal".  I love that "other similar animal" catch all!  Oh, and it's open season on prairie dogs! "Prairie dogs are a public nuisance."

We live in a world of limited resources and we must live in a balance with nature and wildlife.  But the vast majority of animals in this seizure ARE wild animals, potentially predatory or otherwise harmful.  We would approve of killing them if loosed.  It is highly unlikely ANY of these animals would be subject to any form of protection in their wild state.  If someone captures them and uses them as merchandise, they are inherently improved over their wild state as far as being cared for goes.

How dare Arlington Animal Control spend precious tax dollars on seizing wild animals from a legal owner of them?  It is no wonder our taxes continue to climb and climb.  While citizens starve and have their homes foreclosed, every government agency from local animal controls to US Fish and Wildlife go right on spending dollar after dollar to save WILD "exotic" pets; putting their well being above that of humans.  The cost of this escapade was reported at $100,000 just for the seizure and moving of the animals.  How many human tummies could be filled with those dollars this dismal holiday season?

The hearing is reported to be set for Friday at 2 PM (my that's fast, someone in a hurry to get possession of these so they can sell them for further seizure efforts?) but, of course, the media declined to publish the court and location.  It is so very sad that the courts have grown so that one can't simply show up at "the courthouse" and easily find even a publicized hearing.  MORE sad that the media colludes with the government by declining to publish the court, location, etc.  The details that would readily allow the public to attend and at least hear what the courts are doing in all our names.

We can only hope that the judge quickly slaps the Arlington AC down so they won't continue to waste money like this.  But then s/he will have to do so facing a packed one-sided courtroom.  You can bet the prosecutors will show up in force and that Arlington AC, SPCA of Texas, and HSNT already have their volunteers lined up for court watch.  I always wonder how it is they have so much free time during the day when most people have to WORK like the owner of this business was trying to do.

Ah, but that's the new American Way.  Top Down.  We are all to simply do as we're told or suffer the consequences of punishment in virtual star chambers.  It won't be long before we have real star chambers: "in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses".  Oh, sorry, that's right, we're already doing some of those so it's just a matter of them spreading.

I think I need to go weep over my copy of the US Constitution...

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