Victory! Second Judge Rules that USGE Will Not Regain Custody of Animals

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3 min read

In what is an outstanding victory for animals and a crippling blow to the exotic pet trade, Tarrant County Court Judge Jennifer Rymell yesterday affirmed Municipal Judge Michael Smith’s outstanding January 5 ruling: U.S. Global Exotics will not regain custody of the more than 26,000 animals confiscated by Arlington officials in a massive civil seizure last month.

After reviewing hours of testimony, video, and photos taken on the day of the seizure and gathered during PETA’s seven-month undercover investigation of USGE, Judge Rymell affirmed Judge Smith’s ruling that Jasen and Vanessa Shaw, the owners and operators of USGE, had cruelly treated all the animals seized from their business on December 15. Thousands of reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, arachnids, and many other animals—including sloths, wallabies, and ring-tailed lemurs—were cruelly confined to hideously cramped, filthy litter pans, dungeon-like cattle-feeding troughs, boxes, bags, and even soda bottles. They were denied desperately needed food, water, veterinary care, and other basic care. PETA’s undercover investigator documented that animals were starved and dehydrated, had resorted to eating each other out of stress and hunger, had wounds that were so deep that muscle and bone were exposed and legs were chewed off, were thrown away like trash, were intentionally frozen to death in the facility’s freezers, and more.


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The animals seized have been held and cared for at a facility set up by experts brought in by PETA to ensure their welfare and safety and were cared for daily by staff of the SPCA of Texas, the wonderful Detroit Zoo, the Humane Society of North Texas, and other groups. Food and supplies for these thousands of animals have been subsidized by PETA—and costs run several thousand dollars a week. The great news is that we have been able to secure permanent homes for many of the animals with the Detroit Zoo—where they will have top-notch care—and prescreened groups are lined up to take in many others!

Since the December 15 raid, USGE has effectively been dead—it has not bought or sold a single animal! This means that PETA’s investigation and efforts have saved far more than 26,000 animals—the organization has spared tens of thousands of animals the misery of being captured and taken from their native homes; shipped in cramped crates, pillowcases, and containers; and kept in deplorable, hellish conditions at USGE’s nasty warehouse. The animals rescued from USGE will never have to suffer at the hands of the cruel pet trade ever again.

This is a huge victory that has saved countless lives, but until the PETCOs and PetSmarts of the world stop selling animals—all of whom come from hellholes like USGE, where profit is the only thing that counts and where the lives and welfare of these animals mean nothing—the misery will continue. Many of the animals pulled out of USGE in the nick of time were headed to PetSmart and PETCO distributors nationwide. Please don’t shop at PETCO or PetSmart, and tell your friends not to shop there either and never to support any pet store that sells live animals.

Written by Shawna Flavell

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