Exotic Animal Company Won't Get Custody of Seized Critters

A Tarrant County civil court judge ruled Saturday evening that the operators of an exotic animals company will not get custody of about 27,000 creatures seized last month.

Jennifer Rymell had until midnight Saturday to determine whether U.S. Global Exotics will regain custody of its animals, taken by Arlington officials in the largest animal cruelty seizure in U.S. history.

The operators were appealing a court ruling that granted custody of the animals to the city of Arlington.

The formal appeal on behalf of U.S. Global Exotics was filed Thursday as it disputed allegations of animal cruelty related to the Dec. 15 raid.

A municipal judge on Jan. 5 ruled Arlington must retain custody of the animals removed from the international pet wholesaler's warehouse.  Judge Rymell affirmed that ruling Saturday.

Arlington officials have said the raid turned up starving snakes, reptiles packed in shipping crates and rodents in cramped quarters that ate each other to survive.

U.S. Global Exotics maintains the seizure was unconstitutional. Attorney Lance Evans said the raid by animal welfare officials effectively shut down the business.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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