San Diego

318 small pets from San Diego Humane Society unaccounted for in Arizona

The San Diego Humane Society transferred the critters to Arizona August 7

NBC Universal, Inc.

More than 300 small pets left the San Diego Humane Society in a truck on Aug. 7, headed for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Dozens of rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice were headed for new opportunities to get adopted.

No one at the San Diego Humane Society knows exactly where all 318 critters are today.

“Our celebration of transporting these animals a few weeks ago changed a lot last week when we had more questions than answers about where the animals ended up,” sighed Gary Weitzman, DVM.

Dr. Weitzman is the San Diego Humane Society’s President. He said the animals were transferred nearly a month ago to Arizona. However, other rescue groups and animal lovers were up in arms on social media. They said they never saw any listings for the animals or advertisements for adoption. As of Tuesday afternoon, Weitzman wasn’t certain where all 318 animals were.

“Those are our kids. We have to know exactly what happened to them, where they are, how they were housed,” he said while standing outside the San Diego Humane Society.

“This is ultimately a really good news story that we’re saving lives of animals that were at risk,” said Steve Farley, CEO of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

Farley said 250 of the 318 animals were adopted out through a private rescue that has worked with HSSA for a decade. The remaining 68 were taken to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona’s shelter in Tucson.

Farley added the private rescue wanted to remain anonymous because it didn’t want people to drop off animals at their location. He also said the unnamed rescue didn’t need the publicity.

“They’re family run, family funded. They don’t need to fundraise,” explained Farley. “I understand people want to know every detail, but at the same time, these folks, they don’t do this to fundraise.”

The thought of a private rescue raised red flags on social media and in San Diego. No one could identify a rescue that could handle 250 small pets, let alone get them all adopted in a matter of weeks.

Farley said he appreciated the passion from the animal lovers, but said some took it too far.

“Some people have gotten so carried away with it. The rescue has told us now they’ve seen threats online and they’re worried for their families at this point,” he said.

Weitzman still wanted answers.

“We’ve asked to speak with that rescue and we’re waiting for an OK to do that,” he told NBC 7. “I have to say that I am optimistic right now that we will get it. We have a good relationship with their director.”

Ultimately, Weitzman wanted assurances the 318 animals are OK.

“I feel like they are. I just want proof of that and we can’t rest until we have it," he said.

“We’re going to have a call with folks running the rescue soon and ask them if it’s possible to just have the conversation with Dr. Weitzman,” agreed Farley.

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