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Humane Society says 200+ missing animals may have been used as reptile food

Humane Society of Southern Arizona Guinea Pig.png
Posted at 3:26 AM, Nov 10, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — An internal investigationconducted by the Humane Society of Southern Arizona has brought to light a text message that may hold the key to the fate of nearly 300 missing small animals.

HSSA's Board Director, Robert Garcia, expressed deep concern over the possible outcome for these animals.

"We are heartbroken for every one of these animals," Garcia stated.

The shocking details emerged during a Zoom conference held by HSSA on Thursday. According to Garcia, a text message sent by Colten Jonesmay point to there outcome of the 261 animals that never made their way back to the HSSA.

"The day after receiving these animals, Colten Jones sent a text message seeking assistance in processing a high volume of guinea pigs and rabbits for food," Garcia revealed.

The story began in August when a transfer of 323 animals was approved from the San Diego Humane Society to HSSA. However, these animals were transferred to Jones, who was purportedly taking them to a family-run rescue group in Maricopa County.

However, suspicions were raised about Jones' involvement with a reptile breeding company he owns.

When the animals were eventually returned to HSSA, only 62 of the original 323 animals were accounted for.

Garcia believes that the text message and Jones' company suggest a potentially devastating outcome.

"We could not have conceived anything like this happening in connection with our organization," he said. "I'm sad and heartbroken for the animals, the community, and our organization."

Garcia has indicated that they may consider pursuing criminal and civil action against Jones and any HSSA employees who may have been involved. In the meantime, he emphasized their focus on rebuilding from within.

"We're going to focus on our mission. We have hired a wonderful interim CEO who is making quite the difference in helping us change our culture and ensuring this never happens again."

HSSA's internal investigation was completed, and the findings will be published in December. The Tucson Police Department is also conducting its investigation into the matter.

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Kenny Darr is a reporter for KGUN 9. He joined the team in January 2023. Before arriving in Arizona he was an Anchor and Reporter at KADN in Lafayette, LA. Share your story ideas with Kenny by emailing kenny.darr@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.