Monday, May 17, 2010

Jasen & Vanessa Shaw: US Global Exotics, Arlington, Texas

Federal warrant issued for US Global Exotics’ owner Jason Shaw

By: Rebecca Poling

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..." More

May 4, 2010: Arlington Man Wanted in Biggest Animal Cruelty Seizure in US

An Arlington man whose company sold hundreds of thousands of animals is now a fugitive in one of the biggest animal cruelty cases in the U.S.

Federal authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Jasen Shaw, who owned the now-defunct U.S. Global Exotics, Inc.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals conducted a 7-month undercover investigation at USGE's Arlington warehouse and found starving animals who were confined in crowded and filthy enclosures.

Authorities seized 26,000 animals, many of whom were dead or dying.

Anyone with information about Shaw or his wife, Vanessa, can call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at 817-334-5202..."

Jan 8, 2009: Judge rules animals maltreated
Some lizards could come to Longmont

Some of the 27,000 animals seized from an Arlington, Texas, business may soon come to Colorado — including the Longmont-based Colorado Reptile Humane Society.

The animals, which include about 22,000 reptiles and amphibians, belonged to U.S. Global Exotics of Arlington. On Tuesday, an Arlington judge ruled that the company’s owners had maltreated the animals in their care.

“One of the containers was 2 feet by 3 feet by 2 feet, and they would have 1,000 small lizards in there,” said Ann-Elizabeth Nash, executive director of the CRHS, who acted as an expert in the case. “You had animals that were desiccated, that were deteriorating, liquefying. I actually saw animals having seizures and dying in front of me.”..." More

Jan 6, 2009: Spotlight on Arlington animal business could include industry (Star-Telegram Editorial / Opinion)

The Dec. 15 seizure of 27,000 animals from U.S. Global Exotics in Arlington — and the seven days of municipal court testimony as a judge decided whether the company or its owners could regain custody of them — must have startled many people who were not yet aware of the exotic animal trade.

The thought of 27,000 animals in one private building is shocking enough.

The episode also showed a well-tuned, thoughtful and balanced court process in Arlington as the city first took control of the animals after receiving evidence of mistreatment and then carefully and extensively followed state law to protect the owners’ rights. Municipal Judge Michael Smith ruled Tuesday that there was indeed ample — even abundant — cause to terminate those rights and turn the animals over to the city for proper care.

Conditions at U.S. Global Exotics, as described in Smith’s ruling, were deplorable:

"The facility was seriously understaffed." Only three workers present at the time of the seizure were dedicated exclusively to caring for the thousands of mostly "wild-caught" reptiles, rare mammals, amphibians and spiders. Experts testified that the number should have been 20 to 40.

"All of the animals were subjected to poor air quality . . . a constant stench of death . . . [and] a strong ammonia odor resulting from urine."

"Many of the animals were housed in overcrowded conditions, including many types of animals that are solitary by nature and should not be forced into close proximity even with others from their own species."

"Many of the animals were unreasonably deprived of basic needs, such as food, water, clean bedding, and heat." That includes 414 iguanas boxed up for shipment and left without food or water for two weeks while the order for them fell through.

Another surprise: Smith ruled that the 600 dead animals found on the day of the seizure "do not constitute conclusive evidence of cruel treatment." Nor, he wrote, should Arlington be held responsible for the deaths of almost 4,000 more that died after the city took custody.

The "death rate in the animal trade is generally high," Smith wrote. "One witness cited a study that indicated that as many as 70 [percent] of reptiles die before reaching their ultimate purchaser."

Some animals have diseases or parasites when they are captured. Some experience stress from capture, from being transported, from temperature changes or other factors. Some stop eating and die.

While finding that all of the animals had been cruelly confined, cruelly treated and denied necessary veterinary care, Smith added another sobering thought:

"Evidence was received which indicated that this facility was operated in accordance with industry standards of the exotic animal trade. While this may be true, this Court is not free to substitute those standards for the standards set by Texas statutes."

U.S. Global Exotics and its owners tried to deflect blame to an employee hired by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to infiltrate the company and report on conditions there. They said the employee neglected his caretaking job. If that were so, why didn’t U.S. Global Exotics fire the PETA mole long ago instead of keeping him on staff for seven months? Not to have fired an employee who posed a danger to the animals would signal neglect by the company and its owners.

Smith’s ruling deals a severe financial blow to U.S. Global Exotics. After all, the "animal trade" places a high price on its merchandise.

But if conditions at the company really do reflect industry standards, it is a profoundly troubled industry..." Link

Jan 5, 2009: 27,000 exotic animals seized in Arlington raid shouldn't be returned, judge rules

A municipal judge ruled Tuesday that more than 27,000 animals taken from U.S. Global Exotics during a raid last month were being cruelly treated and should not be returned to their owners.

Municipal Judge Michael Smith found that owners Jasen and Vanessa Shaw did not provide adequate care for the hundreds of exotic species housed at their north Arlington export business, resulting in unnecessary injury, illness or death of animals.

After a seven-day custody hearing, which included expert testimony and hundreds of photographs and video footage of the animals’ living conditions, Smith determined that the animals were inhumanely confined in cramped and dirty cages and denied necessary food, water and veterinary care.

"Evidence was received which indicated that this facility was operated in accordance with industry standards of the exotic animal trade," Smith wrote. "While this may be true, this court is not free to substitute those standards for the standards set by Texas statutes."

The Shaws have 10 days to appeal the decision in Tarrant County court. The couple’s attorney, Lance Evans, said Tuesday that he anticipates that they will..." More

Dec 31, 2009: Officials say 4,000 of animals seized in raid have died


ARLINGTON – Attorneys from U.S. Global said they were "extremely alarmed" to learn Thursday that nearly 4,000 animals have died since being seized by the city as part of an ongoing animal cruelty investigation.

U.S. Global is battling to regain custody of more than 26,000 animals seized Dec. 15 after an undercover investigator with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals provided the city with photos, videos and other documents of alleged animal cruelty he took during his seven months of employment there..." More

Dec 31, 2009: Animals rights investigator only one who cared - Peta

The lawyer for a New Zealand couple facing animal cruelty charges in America is unfairly trying to pin blame on an undercover investigator from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), the organisation says.

Peta investigator Howard Goldman was working for the Texas-based animal import business US Global Exotics, owned by New Zealanders Jasen and Vanessa Shaw, and reporting to Peta on alleged animal neglect.

The business was raided shortly before Christmas and more than 26,000 animals were seized.

Many were dead or dying, apparently because of the conditions in which they were kept.

The Shaws now faced animal cruelty charges, but their lawyer Lance Evans had accused Mr Goldman of deliberately neglecting animals to further Peta's agenda.

In The Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper Mr Evans said Mr Goldman could have done more to provide food, water and care for the animals that he said were being mistreated...." More

Dec 30, 2009: Zoo employee testifies that he never saw animals mistreated at Arlington business

ARLINGTON — A Fort Worth Zoo employee who bought and sold animals for himself at U.S. Global Exotics testified Tuesday that he never saw animals being mistreated at the north Arlington business.

Mike Doss, who was not representing the zoo, disputed the testimony of witnesses for Arlington that the business improperly housed animals and denied them food, water and veterinarian care.

The owners of U.S. Global, an Internet-based exotic-animal wholesaler, are trying to regain custody of more than 26,000 animals seized by the city Dec. 15 during an animal cruelty investigation. Tuesday was the fifth day of the custody hearing before Municipal Judge Michael Smith.

"I was impressed," Doss said of what he saw during regular visits to the business since 2006 to buy animals or sell those he had raised at home.

"They obviously invested a lot of money in their caging systems and how they took care of their animals."

Doss, who cares for coldblooded land animals at the zoo, said there are several plausible reasons why some of the snakes, lizards and turtles seized from the business appeared emaciated or sick. Most animals caught in the wild are not screened for illnesses or parasites before they are shipped to distributors, and the travel itself or exposure to a new environment can affect animals’ appetites, he said.

He concurred with testimony from U.S. Global employees that it is not unusual or inhumane to force hibernation for certain animals, such as lizards and turtles, by keeping them in low temperatures or to not feed animals before shipping so they don’t bloat or regurgitate during transport..." More

Dec 28, 2009: PETA worker neglected job, attorney says

Attorneys for U.S. Global Exotics accused an employee Monday of intentionally neglecting animals at the north Arlington business to further his agenda as an undercover investigator for the animal-welfare group PETA.

Lance Evans, an attorney representing owners Jasen and Vanessa Shaw, said Howard Goldman, who was working for PETA, could have done more to provide food, water and care for the animals that he said were being mistreated.

Instead, he chose to secretly take photos and make daily reports to send to PETA, the attorney said. Evans also pointed out that Goldman had never contacted federal, state or local authorities about his concerns during his seven months there.

"He was more concerned about helping PETA achieve its goal of putting U.S. Global out of business than actually aiding any animals that he felt were in distress," said Evans, who added that Goldman investigated the company without a license, a violation of state law.

The company is battling to regain custody of more than 26,000 animals seized by the city Dec. 15 after Goldman turned over evidence outlining what he described as animal cruelty at the Internet-based animal wholesaler’s facility..." More

Dec 27, 2009: Custody of thousands of exotic animals still undecided


Animal welfare officials will be back in court in Arlington Monday seeking custody of thousands of exotic animals seized earlier this month.

The December 15 raid on the U.S. Global Exotics warehouse was one of the largest of its kind. Officials found thousands of animals, including snakes, wallabies, tarantulas, turtles, and hedgehogs.

Many were in overcrowded cages and were malnourished.

Some of the animals were dead.

U.S. Global Exotics representatives said the animals were well cared for...." More

Dec 22, 2009: Facility where animals were seized should be demolished, witness says

ARLINGTON — A health specialist testified Tuesday that U.S. Global Exports is so contaminated by pests, parasites and illness-causing pathogens that it should be demolished or completely gutted and sterilized before housing animals again.

Clifford Warwick, a reptile and public health specialist from England, was one of several experts brought in to help Arlington Animal Services assess the health of more than 26,000 animals removed last week from the Internet-based exotic animal dealer. The north Arlington company is accused by the city of inhumanely housing animals and denying them food, water and medical care.

During an ongoing administrative hearing to determine whether the owners should regain custody of the seized animals, Warwick testified about the unsanitary conditions he saw during the Dec. 15 raid that have the potential to spread fatal diseases not only to animals but to humans. Warwick cited cages and floors covered in animal feces and vomit from sick animals, a roach infestation and hundreds of uncaged animals roaming freely about.

Death and decay

"It’s my firm view as a health specialist these animals could not be returned to that facility," Warwick said. "It is a rampant reservoir of potential infection."

Warwick said he found no evidence of disease control at the business, which he said reeked "of death and decay on a mammoth and overwhelming scale" the day of the raid..." More

Dec 21, 2009: Vets: Seized animals lacked proper food, environments

By Susan Schrock

ARLINGTON -- Another 1,000 animals seized from a north Arlington exotic pet dealer last week have died, in addition to the 600 found dead at the facility, according to testimony this morning in Arlington Municipal Court.

In the second day of an administrative hearing to determine custody of the animals, experts testified that the more than 26,000 animals housed there lacked food and water and appropriate environments. And the company’s three employees would not have been able to care for that number of animals, the two veterinarians said.

Such conditions amount to cruelty, they said.

But at attorney representing the pet dealer stressed that the facility was a temporary holding site, and he has said that the containers in which the animals were housed were appropriate for the short term.

Dr. Janet Martin, brought in by the city to oversee the mammals taken from U.S. Global Exotics, said five wallabies at the facility were loose in a room where bedding material had been thrown on top of a tile floor. The room was filled with feces and flies, Martin said. The only food in the room was moldy carrots.

Martin also said that all of the the animals tested so far had parasite infestations.

The company’s owners, Jasen and Vanessa Shaw, were not at Monday’s hearing. But Lance Evans, an attorney representing the Shaws, said that the animals were captured in the wild and could have arrived with the infestations. He also said that the company is a wholesaler and that the animals weren’t housed for public display..." More

12/15/2009: Thousands of Exotic Animals Seized From Warehouse


Authorities spent hours removing more than 20,000 animals, dead and alive, from the U.S. Global Exotics warehouse on Tuesday in what may be the biggest animal seizures in the country.

Arlington Animal Services served a civil seizure warrant on U.S. Global Exotics, a company that imports then sells exotic pets including chinchillas, wallabys and various reptiles and insects.

More than 50 workers from Arlington Animal Services, The Humane Society and the SPCA of Texas removed thousands of tubs and cages full of animals.

"Just the number of dead animals or dying animals -- I've never seen anything like this before," said James Bias, president of the SPCA of Texas.

Workers from the organizations will have to get an inventory of all the animals before they can get a real picture of how many animals were housed at the warehouse on the 1000 block of Oakmead Drive. Authorities brought veterinarians and animal experts from around the world to give insight on how the exotic animals must be cared for.

"Many of these exotic animals require (special) humidity and heat, proper ventilation, certain types of bedding and certain types of food. And the experts are in there saying they are certainly not getting what they need, and in their minds, there is severe cruelty going on," Bias said.

The seized animals were taken to an undisclosed location where they will be triaged..." More