Hundreds of Cute Small Animals Adopted by Arizona Group, But Joy Turns to Horror When Humane Society Realizes What Its Job Is


Chalk this one up under “be careful what you wish for.”

Humane societies in California and Arizona might have thought they had put hundreds of rodents and other small animals on the road to finding a permanent home when they transferred them to two Arizona men in August.

It turned out to be permanent, all right. But “home” wasn’t quite the word.

According to The Associated Press, the San Diego Humane Society and the Human Society of Southern Arizona are looking into litigation after transferring more than 300 “pocket pets” — guinea pigs, rabbits, and the like — into the care of two Arizona men.

While that might have seemed like good news — the San Diego Humane Society had been plagued by overcrowding — according to the AP, there was a catch.

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And it was the kind of catch that turns a local news story into the kind of thing people are talking about a continent away.

“Roughly 250 small animals transferred from California to Arizona may have ended up fed to reptiles, humane societies say,” the New York Post declared on its social media account.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the news was confirmed three months after a cloud of suspicion surrounding the animals’ fate.

“For weeks, the San Diego shelter and advocates demanded proof that the animals were safe after the Tucson shelter declined to share information about most of them,” the Union-Tribune reported. “It said only that they were being adopted out through a private rescue organization that wanted to remain anonymous.”

That “private rescue operation,” according to the AP, turned out to be two Arizona brothers — one of them the operator of a reptile farm whose business included selling live and frozen animals for reptile feed.

And guess what reptiles feed on?

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Animal lovers, of course, are aghast.

“A Hollywood horror writer couldn’t write something like this,” San Diego Human Society CEO Gary Weitzman told The Washington Post (yet another example of how far the news had spread).

At first, the transfer was greeted with great joy, as the Washington Post described it:

“In the caption of a video showing the Aug. 7 send-off, the California rescue organization called the transfer the largest in its history, thanking its counterpart, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, for helping ease overcrowding by taking in the adoptable animals. “Looking good,” one worker was heard saying in the clip as another crouched to scoop up a white rabbit.

The joy proved to be short-lived — if not as short-lived as its subjects.

It was the silence surrounding the animals that first fed suspicion, WaPo reported.

Animal care organizations typically advertise and publicize their charges — to make it easier to find homes for the potential pets.

Should there be legal action over this mass adoption?

“In the close-knit world of animal welfare and adoption volunteers, the large shipment was well-publicized. But there was no fanfare at the Tucson shelter when the Guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and rats arrived,” WaPo reported.

“No adoption listings appeared online, and no major adoption events were publicized.”

Even as doubts mounted, Steve Farley, the now-former CEO of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, told a San Diego television station that all was well.

“Almost 250 of them are in their forever homes right now and having a wonderful life,” Farley, a former Democratic state Senate minority leader, told KGTV in August. “So that’s the really great thing happening right now.”

Eventually, the truth came out — Farley is out of his job and animal lovers are aghast.


Actually, it’s not clear what grounds the humane societies would have against the men who took the animals, or whether any laws were broken. Tuckson police are investigating, according to, the website of the Tucson Daily Star. A final report is expected in December, the report noted.

It might have been forgotten by the teary-eyed animal libs who tended to make up the critics (or maybe that’s just the kind of bios to expect in The Washington Post’s social media base),  but animals eating animals is fairly routine in the animal world.

In fact, that’s pretty much how the animal kingdom operates, from the bottom of the food chain right up to the top — which is human beings.

It might not be pleasant to contemplate, and for a certain segment of the animal kingdom, it’s no doubt fairly painful.

But Creation is what Creation is — “Nature red in tooth and claw” as the old song goes.

And the fact is, those snakes and lizards and whatnot that got fed have just as much right to be cared for as any other animal.

And that means something has to give. These humane societies clearly just didn’t realize what they were giving.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.