Federal warrant issued for US Global Exotics’ owner Jason Shaw
Texas 21131 74-B-0520 U.S. Global Exotics, Inc. 504 Edinburgh Lane Coppell 75019
A federal warrant has been issued for U.S. Global Exotics’ owner Jason Shaw, and officials now believe he has fled to his native New Zealand. The warrant charges Shaw with multiple violations of the Lacey Act, as well as Smuggling, Conspiracy, and Aiding and Abetting. According to the Animal Legal & Historical Center website, the Lacey Act is “one of the broadest and most comprehensive forces in the federal arsenal to combat wildlife crime.” Felony convictions under the Lacey Act can result in the penalties of up to $20,000 and/or five years imprisonment per violation. The federal warrant was issued in February, but only made public this week.
US Global Exotics was located in Arlington and specialized in shipping exotic animals to customers across the globe. Orders were processed on the Internet via the company’s now defunct website. But on December 15, 2009, Arlington Animal Services, with assistance from the Humane Society of North Texas and the SPCA of Texas, served a seizure warrant on US Global Exotics alleging inhumane treatment and unsanitary living conditions for the 27,000 exotic animals inside the 5,000 square foot building. Hundreds of the animals were dead when the raid was conducted and hundreds more were sick and dying. The seizure affidavit blames the deaths on illness, cruel confinement, overcrowding, and lack of food, water, and veterinary care.
After a hearing in late December, which included testimony from some of the nation’s leading exotic animal experts, an Arlington municipal court judge ruled the more than 27,000 exotic animals were indeed cruelly treated by U.S. Global Exotics and custody of the animals was awarded to the City of Arlington. The Shaw’s immediately appealed. Throughout the appeals process, the unusual array of nearly 27,000 animals were cared for 24/7 at the SPCA of Texas by staff and volunteers from the SPCA of Texas and the Humane Society of North Texas, along with species-specific experts and vets from around the country cared. “The sheer volume of animals in this seizure was unlike anything I’ve seen before in more than 30 years working in the animal welfare field,” said James Bias, president of the SPCA of Texas, when asked about caring for the animals from what would eventually become the largest animal seizure in the nation’s history.
Finally, on January 30th, after a judge ruled against U.S. Global in their final appeal, the animals were able to begin the journey to their new homes — in Texas, as well as Virginia, Arizona, Michigan, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota Pennsylvania, Maryland, and many other states. The Detroit Zoo provided a home for five wallabies, four sloths, three agoutis, two ring-tailed lemurs, two coatis, two kinkajous, and hundreds of reptiles, spiders, and amphibians. Thousands more — chinchillas, ferrets, hedgehogs, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, lizards, iguanas, geckos, turtles, tortoises, goldfish, tarantulas, anacondas, scorpions, boas, crabs, and frogs — went to rescue groups, humane societies, and zoos across the country.
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
I’m in a PETA frame of mind because PETA coordinated the investigation and raid of U.S. Global Exotics, of Arlington, Texas, the largest exotic wildlife seizure in U.S. history. Saturday, a judge upheld PETA on appeal. Now, in the reptile world PETA is hated. At my first Daytona Show python breeder Bob Clark was wearing a t-shirt that read People Eating Tasty Animals, and I was often accused of being a Peta-mole, a bunny hugger, and other nasties, until people got to know me. Then they just called me an asshole. In a nice way.
PETA is using the USGE case to urge a ban on imports from Malaysia and to advocate a ban on pet shops in the United States: ”Please don’t shop at PETCO or PetSmart and tell your friends not to either, and to never support any pet store that sells live animals,” wasposted on its blog.
Without a pet shop, I never would have developed my love for wildlife so I can’t agree with that latter proposal. What surprises me is that no one is using the USGE case to call for minimum standards of care for the sale of exotics. From the time I was a boy, I have gone in every pet store I have ever seen. This applies anywhere in the world. If I see a pet store I have to go in it. I don’t know why. For years, that meant seeing alot of reptiles in poor conditions. Lately that has changed. Many pet stores recognize the value of well cared for reptiles. Still, others treat their reptiles as trash pets. There ought to be minimum standards of cleanliness, space, food and water for those animals and there ought to be better standards among breeders and keepers, too.
In the small world category, USGE, owned by Jasen and Vanessa Shaw of New Zealand, is a customer of Anson Wong’s companies, as reported by Hilary Chiew of Malaysia’s The Star and by Mongabay.com, which kindly mentions my book, The Lizard King.
Victory! Second Judge Rules that USGE Will Not Regain Custody of Animals
After reviewing hours of testimony, video, and photos taken on the day of the seizure and gathered during PETA’s seven-month undercover investigation of USGE, Judge Rymell affirmed Judge Smith’s ruling that Jasen and Vanessa Shaw, the owners and operators of USGE, had cruelly treated all the animals seized from their business on December 15. Thousands of reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, arachnids, and many other animals—including sloths, wallabies, and ring-tailed lemurs—were cruelly confined to hideously cramped, filthy litter pans, dungeon-like cattle-feeding troughs, boxes, bags, and even soda bottles. They were denied desperately needed food, water, veterinary care, and other basic care. PETA’s undercover investigator documented that animals were starved and dehydrated, had resorted to eating each other out of stress and hunger, had wounds that were so deep that muscle and bone were exposed and legs were chewed off, were thrown away like trash, were intentionally frozen to death in the facility’s freezers, and more.
The animals seized have been held and cared for at a facility set up by experts brought in by PETA to ensure their welfare and safety and were cared for daily by staff of the SPCA of Texas, the wonderful Detroit Zoo, the Humane Society of North Texas, and other groups. Food and supplies for these thousands of animals have been subsidized by PETA—and costs run several thousand dollars a week. The great news is that we have been able to secure permanent homes for many of the animals with the Detroit Zoo—where they will have top-notch care—and prescreened groups are lined up to take in many others!
Since the December 15 raid, USGE has effectively been dead—it has not bought or sold a single animal! This means that PETA’s investigation and efforts have saved far more than 26,000 animals—the organization has spared tens of thousands of animals the misery of being captured and taken from their native homes; shipped in cramped crates, pillowcases, and containers; and kept in deplorable, hellish conditions at USGE’s nasty warehouse. The animals rescued from USGE will never have to suffer at the hands of the cruel pet trade ever again.
This is a huge victory that has saved countless lives, but until the PETCOs and PetSmarts of the world stop selling animals—all of whom come from hellholes like USGE, where profit is the only thing that counts and where the lives and welfare of these animals mean nothing—the misery will continue. Many of the animals pulled out of USGE in the nick of time were headed to PetSmart and PETCO distributors nationwide. Please don’t shop at PETCO or PetSmart, and tell your friends not to shop there either and never to support any pet store that sells live animals.
Written by Shawna Flavell Written by PETA 01-31-2010 http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/2010/01/31/victory-second-judge-rules-that-usge-will-not-regain-custody-of-animals.aspx
Courts await animal trader’s return
The animal welfare organisation which infiltrated an American animal trading business run by New Zealander Jasen Shaw says it does not expect him to return voluntarily to the United States to face cruelty charges.
Daphna Nachminovitch, a cruelty investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), said there was no sign Mr Shaw intended to voluntarily face the charges.
“He has had … nearly three months to return to the US to do so.”
Mr Shaw, 37, faces charges of falsified information and false labelling for export.
United States authorities have appealed for information on his whereabouts, but Mr Shaw’s American lawyer Lance Evans told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he had been in constant contact with his client, who had left for New Zealand before the warrant was issued in February.
Peta put an undercover investigator into Mr Shaw’s business, US Global Exotics in Arlington, Texas for seven months last year.
On December 9, 2009, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, acting on a tipoff, raided the company and seized records and computers.
Six days later, the local council seized more than 26,000 animals, including amphibians, snakes and turtles, and mammals ranging from sloths, lemurs and wallabies to hamsters.
Ms Nachminovitch told NZPA that many of the seized animals were ill, injured, or dying, and hundreds were dead.
“Based on the legal proceedings that followed and the fact that the Shaws’ animals were all found by a court of law to have been cruelly treated, it was highly likely that charges, federal and/or local, would follow,” she said.
A Texas municipal judge, Michael Smith, ruled that the international pet wholesaler had cruelly treated the animals, and he awarded custody of the animals to the city, which turned them over to the SPCA.
Mr Shaw moved to Texas from New Zealand in 1997 as an employee of Animal Source Texas, a company owned by a wildlife dealer Source New Zealand, according to files in a later lawsuit between Shaw and his former employers.
He set up Global Exotics in 2002 and left Animal Source Texas in 2003, the documents showed.
Global Exotics shipped hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide and saw its business grow rapidly in the mid-2000s.
Mr Shaw told US Labor Department investigators that the company had sales of $US2.3 million ($NZ3.1m) in 2005. That figure rose to $US3.4m in 2006 and $US4.5m in the first 11 months of 2007, according to government records Peta obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Mr Shaw’s four-bedroom, two-story home where he lived with his wife, Vanessa – who also worked at US Global Exotics – is empty, the Dallas Morning News reported. The house was listed for sale at $US296,500, ($NZ411,000) on March 6.
– NZPA http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/3662227/Courts-await-animal-traders-return