Texas SPCA halts adoptions of 2,000 seized exotic animals

ARLINGTON — The SPCA of Texas asked Petco stores to cease adoptions Wednesday of 2,000 animals seized from U.S. Global Exotics because the effort violated its agreement with a wildlife welfare agency.

The SPCA had given the hamsters, fancy mice, lizards and snakes to Wild Rescue Inc. of Texas, an agency partnered with the Petco Foundation, a nonprofit linked to the pet store chain.

The Star-Telegram reported Wednesday that Wild Rescue was making the animals available for adoption at 22 Petco stores in Dallas-Fort Worth and that the Petco Foundation, which provides supplies and support to animal welfare groups, was set to collect a nominal adoption fee.

The SPCA was aware of Wild Rescue's plans, but the agency stopped the effort Wednesday after learning that Petco required that the actual ownership of the animals be surrendered to the stores, which violated the agreement between SPCA and Wild Rescue, said Maura Davies, SPCA spokeswoman. "That gave the perception that the animals were going back into the pet trade industry," Davies said.

A Petco spokesman said the company was not seeking financial gain from the pet rescue. Wild Rescue, which works closely with Petco, is a separate nonprofit agency.

"They were concerned that ... Petco and/or the foundation are somehow gaining benefit by the partnership," said Kevin Whalen, a Petco spokesman, adding that the adoption fee would have helped the foundation cover the cost of housing the animals. "That's not true. That's not our intent. We're extremely disappointed."

The 2,000 animals were among the 27,000-plus that Arlington seized Dec. 15 because of inhumane conditions found at U.S. Global Exotics, an international pet wholesaler. This month, the city turned custody of the animals over to the SPCA, which has placed many of them with zoos, animal sanctuaries and welfare groups.

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