Malibu, CA – April 3, 2017 – American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), Malibu, CA, a nonprofit that offers sanctuary to special needs turtles and tortoises, this week received 70 tiny hatchling red eared slider turtles confiscated during a sting by Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS). The confiscation was a coordinated effort with ATR, Voice for the Animals Foundation and California Turtle and Tortoise Club, Valley Chapter. LAAS sent six plain clothes officers in to cite the shop owners. In addition, to make sure the landlords were aware of the illegal sales, they were cited as well.
Since 1974, Federal law has prohibited the sale of turtles with shells under four inches in the U.S. over concerns about the transmission of Salmonella especially in children. Despite this important law, millions of hatchlings are sold throughout the U.S. via online sales as well in the cruel pet trade. Chinatown and Santee Street in Los Angeles are notorious for selling baby turtles in plastic bags or small containers with a plastic palm tree. Most die with weeks or months even though the average lifespan is 25 years. While the vast majority of hatchlings are harvested in the south, they come into the U.S. from Mexico. They reach California through distributors who bring them to sellers in high traffic tourist areas like Chinatown, Santee Street and even the LA subway system. Unfortunately, California does nothing to stop the constant flow. See videos of hatchlings here http://bit.ly/2ninsLL.
According to Susan Tellem, executive director of ATR, “These are adorable and an impulse buy for 10 bucks – a good daily income for some street vendors and small shops. Unfortunately, most die from ignorance or neglect, and some even are flushed down the toilet alive by unhappy parents.”
Unfortunately, all turtles, no matter what the size, should be handled as if they carry Salmonella because most have no symptoms. There is no known treatment for Salmonella, and even if you treat the Salmonella in a pet, it returns. Children under five, pregnant women and the elderly, as well as those with compromised immune systems are at risk of serious illness or even death from Salmonella infections. Turtles are not appropriate for classrooms because of the risk to children who often handle the turtle or touch the water and then put their hands in their mouths. “Show them pictures,” Tellem says. To prevent Salmonella:
ATR is looking for foster parents or forever homes for the hatchlings. It is normally a two – three year commitment as they need to be big enough to be safely rehomed to a private pond. All that is needed is an inexpensive Rubbermaid tub, turtle food, some rocks to sunbathe on and a window where they can get some daily sun. Los Angeles area residents should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
American Tortoise Rescue is a nonprofit founded in 1990 to provide for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle. Celebrate World Turtle Day® which ATR launched in 2000 and is celebrated each year on May 23rd. For more information, visit ATR at www.tortoise.com; email email@example.com; like on Facebook and follow on Twitter @tortoiserescue.
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