400 Chinchillas Rescued in Vista - NBC 7 San Diego

400 Chinchillas Rescued in Vista



    More than 400 chinchillas were rescued by the San Diego Humane Society during an eight-hour operation in Vista, the largest animal rescue operation ever by the humane society.

    The chinchillas were rescued from a breeding farm on Tuesday, three weeks after the humane society received a request from PETA to step in.

    A spokeswoman for the humane society said the owners were looking to retire. However, PETA said it closed the business because of "cruel practices." Sam Simon, co-creator of the TV show "The Simpsons" purchased the business in conjunction with PETA.

    On its website, PETA claims the chinchillas were set to be slaughtered and that the business was known to electrocute the animals for fur -- a claim that the humane society said they "can't confirm or deny."

    Kelli Schry, a spokeswoman of the humane society, said she was aware of the electrocution claim, but humane society officers visiting the farm did not find any evidence of mistreatment.

    "All the animals were well cared for, so there's no need to pursue any neglect or cruelty charges on them," she said.

    NBC 7 reached out to the owner. She admitted to electrocuting some of the chinchillas, but added that she grew up in the country, where animals were slaughtered for food.

    While PETA offiicals said they did find evidence of chinchillas being electrocuted, these type of cases are seldom prosecuted because "some would consider it as part of agriculture," said Lisa Lange, vice president of PETA.

    "This is pretty common in the U.S. -- electrocuting animals for fur," she said. "It's easy and it's fast."

    Lange said instead of going after prosecution of chinchilla owners, PETA is working to eliminate the consumer demand for fur.

    After the chinchillas were brought to the humane society, veterinarians and animal welfare officials examined them to ensure they were healthy before being adopted. Schry said a number of the chinchillas have already been examined and are ready for adoption.

    The rest will be available for adoption once they've had a health exam, Schry said.

    "All seemed to be in good health and good behavioral health," she said.

      Chinchillas, native to South America, are similar to guinea pigs and have become popular pets in recent years because of their sweet and social temperament.

    Those wanting to adopt one of the chinchillas can visit any of the three humane society locations in San Diego, Oceanside or Escondido.