Slated for skinning by California breeder, 420 rescued chinchillas now await adoption at shelter
by Katerina Lorenzatos Makris ~
More than 400 chinchillas allegedly kept in small, “barren” cages and destined for electrocution then skinning by a southern California breeder find themselves in very different circumstances now.
Rescued in a joint effort this week by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), San Diego Humane Society, and The Simpsons television series co-creator Sam Simon, 420 animals were removed from the breeder’s property in north San Diego county and transported to the humane society’s three local campuses, where veterinarians and other workers are providing health and behavioral checks to prepare them for adoption.
“We’re evaluating each chinchilla and they appear to be healthy and social,” SD Humane spokesperson Kelli Schry told Animal Issues Reporter (AIR). “Many are already available for adoption!”
The animals are aged 11 months to 14 years, said Schry. The males will be neutered prior to adoption.
The breeder sold the chinchillas as pets but also sometimes killed them for their fur, according to PETA.
“Virtually barren steel cages, isolation, lack of veterinary care, and painful medical procedures, including limb amputations performed without anesthesia, were the reality for hundreds of chinchillas at Valley View Chinchilla Ranch,” said PETA on its website.
Reportedly, the elderly owner wanted to sell the property in the semi-rural town of Vista and retire.
“The owner planned to slaughter and skin all the remaining chinchillas for their fur if the business didn’t sell,” PETA stated. “As on many fur farms, a crude, archaic slaughtering method known as “toe-to-ear” electrocution was being used. Toe-to-ear electrocution immobilizes animals but leaves them fully conscious as they experience all the pain of a full-blown heart attack.”
[AIR has not yet been able to reach the facility's owner for comment.]
All legal: Electrocution and dismemberment with no anesthesia
PETA reports that it took action to rescue the animals after the organization’s undercover video investigation of the company [warning: graphic images in video] showed that the breeder routinely subjected them to practices such as killing them by electrocution, splinting broken bones herself, and using “wire snips” to remove injured arms and legs with only “six drops of brandy” as anesthetic.
In the undercover video, a scene of one chinchilla’s electrocution shows the animal twitching, convulsing, and taking at least several minutes to die.
Such methods are standard and legal, according to PETA, because animals farmed for their fur are not protected under welfare laws.
After its investigation, PETA arranged for purchase of the facility, with Simon providing the funds, said the group on its website.
Simon also donated $100,000 for care of the animals
“We received a request from PETA to rescue and care for the chinchillas from a Vista-based business they procured,” explained Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of San Diego Humane Society. “We weren’t necessarily expecting 400 chinchillas on top of the nearly 2,000 animals we’re already caring for, but it’s our mission to help all animals who need us.”
In addition to financing the purchase of the breeder’s business, Simon contributed $100,000 for the animals’ care, which Weitzman estimated will cost about $1,000 a day, or $2.50 per animal per day, until they are adopted.
SD Humane had to hire 20 temporary employees for the job, said Schry.
“Chinchillas are wild and native to South America, but have become popular pets in other countries in recent years,” according to the SD Humane website. “Similar to guinea pigs, rabbits, and other small pets, Chinchillas can be sweet, social, and trainable.”
Interested adopters or donors may visit the SD Humane website for more information, or phone (619) 299-7012.
Get fresh AIR! Please click on the SUBSCRIBE button above (free!) to receive an email alert when we post new articles on this a wide variety of other animal issues.
Katerina Lorenzatos Makris is a career journalist, author, and editor. Credits include hundreds of articles for regional wire services and for outlets such as National Geographic Traveler, The San Francisco Chronicle, Travelers’ Tales, NBC’s Petside.com, and Examiner.com (Animal Policy Examiner), a teleplay for CBS-TV, a short story for The Bark magazine, and 17 novels for Avon, E.P. Dutton, Simon and Schuster, and other major publishers.
Together with coauthor Shelley Frost, Katerina wrote a step-by-step guide for hands-on, in-the-trenches dog rescue, Your Adopted Dog: Everything You Need to Know About Rescuing and Caring for a Best Friend in Need (The Lyons Press).
Please respect copyright law. Sharing AIR links really helps! But copying more than a couple of paragraphs of content without permission is a no-no. If you’d like to use one of AIR’s articles or one of our photographs, kindly contact us at [airinfo AT yahoo DOT com].
Copyright © 2014 Animal Issues Reporter and AnimalIssuesReporter.com.
All rights reserved.