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Text message indicates small animals sent to HSSA processed as food for reptiles

humane society of southern arizona
Posted at 5:33 PM, Nov 09, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Humane Society of Southern Arizona now believes the small animals transferred to Tucson from San Diego, then to a private party in the Phoenix area, may have ended up being processed as food for reptiles.

In August, SDHS sent an estimated 318-323 animals, including guinea pigs, rats, rabbits and hamsters, to Tucson citing that it had reached capacity.

The HSSA then transferred the pets to a private, family owned rescue in Maricopa County, owned by Colten Jones.

One day after receiving the animals, Colten Jones sent a text message seeking help in processing a high volume of Guinea pigs and rabbits for food, according to the news release from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

"We know that Mr. Jones runs a reptile breeding company called The Fertile Turtle," the HSSA release said. "A part of this business includes selling both live and frozen animals for reptile feed.

The board, staff and volunteers of HSSA and SDHS were outraged, the release said.

"This latest piece of information clearly indicates Mr. Jones’ intention to use these animals as feed instead of finding them adoptive homes," it said. "We are heartbroken for every one of these animals and every individual who shares our concern for them."

A statement from the San Diego Humane Society said SDHS would be pursuing both civil and criminal proceedings. HSSA said in its release that it is also considering legal action.

HSSA Board Chairman Robert Garcia press statement:

Humane Society of Southern Arizona Board President addresses missing animal case

More information can be found at HSSAand SDHS.


Bivian Contreras is a real-time editor for KGUN 9. Bivian graduated from the University of Arizona School of Journalism with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Broadcast and is currently pursuing a degree in Broadcast Operational Meteorology. Share your story ideas and important issues with Bivian by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.