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|Defense(s):||Lance Evans, Tony Wicks|
|Judge(s):||Judge Jennifer Rymell of Tarrant County Court|
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Tuesday, Dec 15, 2009County: Tarrant
Charges: Felony CTA
Case Images: 2 files available
» Jasen Shaw
» Vanessa Shaw
Case Updates: 7 update(s) available
A veterinary technician working undercover for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at U.S. Global Exotics in north Arlington documented the mistreatment and deaths of thousands of animals, many which he said were kept in cramped containers without food and water for more than a week.
The PETA insider, interviewed by Arlington animal welfare officials last week, detailed numerous examples of cruelty he observed during the past seven months at the Internet-based exotic animal wholesaler, located in the 1000 block of Oakmead Drive.
On Tuesday, Arlington Animal Services, along with the Humane Society of North Texas and the SPCA, raided the business and seized more than 20,000 animals, ranging from tiny frogs and turtles to sloths and kinkajous.
Officials put the count of live animals counted Wednesday at 26,400. Workers, who said the smell of death inside the one-story tan building was overwhelming, also removed hundreds of carcasses.
Arlington Animal Services interviewed the confidential informant Dec. 9 after being asked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department to investigate whether animals at the location were being treated cruelly, according to an affidavit released by the city Wednesday.
Earlier that day, the federal agency had seized documents and computers from the business related to its investigation into whether animals bought and sold by the business were falsely identified or labeled in violation of federal code, according to the city document.
Animal officials have called Tuesday's raid the largest of its kind.
Among the animals that were still alive were lizards, a large variety of snakes, spiders and crabs, as well as sugar gliders, sloths, hedgehogs and prairie dogs, officials said. The animals, some quite valuable, have been taken to undisclosed locations for care.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department is investigating whether U.S. Global Exotics violated Title 16 USC 3372 (d) of the Lacey Act, which makes it unlawful for any person to make or submit any false record, account, or label for, or any false identification of, any fish, wildlife, or plant which has been, or is intended to be (1) imported, exported, transported, sold, purchased, or received from any foreign country; or (2) transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
The privately held business was incorporated in 2003 and has a customer base spanning more than 20 countries, according to its now defunct Web site. The company's president and founder, Jasen Shaw, is a native of New Zealand and has been importing and exporting exotic animals for more than 11 years, also according to the site.
U.S. Global Exotics is licensed with the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife.
|A man who was held by a Texas Court to be guilty of mistreating more than 27,000 animals and who was later named in a federal arrest warrant issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for alleged protected wildlife trafficking is living and working in Auckland.|
The man, through his lawyer, says he does not agree with the court rulings and he strongly denies the charges brought by USFWS.
New Zealand resident Jasen Shaw ran Texas-based exotic pet business US Global Exotics until it was shut down late in 2009 after a judge in the City of Arlington, Texas Municipal Court ruled all 27,000 animals â€" representing 500 species including frogs, lemurs, iguanas and even wallabies sourced from Rotorua â€" held at the facility, were deprived of food, water and living space in a manner that amounted to cruel treatment.
Also, a Fish and Wildlife Service investigation led to an arrest warrant for protected wildlife trafficking being issued for Shaw in February, 2010.
The 39-year-old became subject to an Interpol red notice, raising international border alerts. It is understood the border alert had not been activated before he flew home.
Since returning to New Zealand he has remained silent on the Texas-based case.
After a lengthy investigation, Shaw was found living in Ellerslie with his wife Vanessa â€" a co-owner of Global Exotics, but who is not sought by authorities.
He is working in Auckland's central business district as the vice-president of international trade and logistics for the New Zealand Trade Centre.
Shaw described the arrest warrant and Interpol alert as "things going on that I'm trying to deal with", and referred all questions to his lawyer Tony Wicks, who said in a statement that his client denied the Wildlife Services charges and disputed the Texan court's cruel treatment ruling.
"Shaw does not in any way condone the maltreatment of animals," Wicks said, adding Shaw was no longer involved in handling animals, and did not intend to return to the trade.
Wicks said the seizure and arrest warrant came after Global Exotics was targeted by "well-known radical animal rights group" the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals â€" Peta.
"Shaw and his family have had to endure a long and orchestrated campaign that has unfairly and adversely affected their lives to a huge degree," Wicks said.
Arlington Texas Municipal Court Judge Michael Smith ruled in 2009 that all 27,000 animals seized had been cruelly mistreated and refused to return the animals.
He said the evidence showed most witnesses described a "constant stench of death" at the facility, that half of a shipment of 414 iguanas died after being left unattended for two weeks, and he ruled many animals were "subject to conditions that promoted fighting and cannibalism".
Shaw appealed the ruling to the Tarrant County courts, but his case was dismissed.
Green Party MP and animal welfare spokeswoman Mojo Mathers said the court ruling "presents a compelling case of extreme animal cruelty and neglect".
Wildlife Service special agent Richard Cook, who heads the case, said from Texas that while the arrest warrant was still active, the case had stalled over the antiquated treaty governing extraditions between New Zealand and the US.
"New Zealand has been fully co-operative with us. There are no complaints at this end. It's just the way the extradition treaty is drawn up, the way it stands now â€" it may need to be changed at some point in regards to wildlife trafficking issues," he said.
The treaty, drafted in 1970 and never updated, lists 31 offences where extradition is allowed. While abortion and sodomy are extraditable offences, animal trafficking is not.
Mathers said the exclusion of wildlife trafficking from the treaty was a loophole that needed to be closed. She compared the Shaw matter with the high-profile Kim Dotcom extradition case and said more needed to be done to enforce animal welfare and trafficking laws internationally.
Wicks said Shaw had not been approached by US or New Zealand authorities and he was seeking to resolve the case using "appropriate legal means and in a professional manner".
|Source: stuff.co.nz - Jan 4, 2012|
Update posted on Mar 31, 2012 - 4:46PM
|A federal arrest warrant has been issued for the owner of the defunct U.S. Global Exotics, an Arlington-based business where animals were confiscated in December in one of the largest animal cruelty seizures in U.S. history. |
Jasen Shaw, a native of New Zealand, faces charges of falsified information and false labeling for export, according to the warrant, issued Feb. 10.
Federal authorities think Shaw fled to New Zealand to avoid prosecution, said Charna Lefton, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service southwest division.
Not so, said Shaw's attorney, Lance T. Evans. Evans said he has been in constant contact with his client during negotiations with federal officials.
"He had already gone to New Zealand before the warrant was issued," Evans said. "He had to leave because his business failed."
U.S. Global Exotics was an established Internet-based supplier and seller of exotic animals worldwide.
On Dec. 15, more than 27,000 reptiles, mammals and amphibians were removed from the business after an employee, acting as an undercover investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, secretly took hundreds of photos and recorded video during his seven months of employment.
A month later, 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.
After the ruling was upheld by a county court-at-law judge, the city turned the animals over to the SPCA of Texas.
If convicted, Shaw could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and fined $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for an organization, Lefton said.
Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/05/04/2164722/arrest-warrant-issued-in-arlington.html#ixzz0pjiJP8C7
|Source: Star-Telegram - May 4, 2010|
Update posted on Jun 2, 2010 - 5:12PM
|Following the largest exotic animal cruelty case in U.S. history, the Larimer Humane Society is trying to find homes for a collection of abused critters, while nursing them back to health. |
Veterinarians cleared nearly all the surviving animals for adoption on Monday after the LHS took a shipment of more than 100 of the displaced leopard lizards, trinket snakes, dragon agamas and exotic hamsters.
This is something that highlights the work the society does with animal overpopulation of all kinds, LHS officials said.
â€śThe Division of Wildlife had asked us to wait and hold off, so we did. We just got the OK to adopt them out,â€ť said Bob Nightwalker, director of the societyâ€™s wildlife rescue program, â€śso now weâ€™re calling people back.â€ť
More than 26,000 animals were confiscated from U.S. Global Exotics, of Arlington, Texas, in December.
The Texas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will eventually ship the entirety of animals out to 50 shelters around the country.
â€śThis is the worst any of us have ever heard of,â€ť said Cary Rentola, an LHS program manager.
â€śWhen you think about pet overpopulation â€¦ you think of fuzzy cats and kittens and puppies,â€ť Rentola said. â€śIt definitely includes reptiles, amphibians, birds, small mammals.â€ť
The Arlington Municipal Court ruling against the pet dealer said the animals were housed in crowded conditions that promoted fighting and cannibalism, in addition to being denied food, water and proper veterinary care.
Global Exotics was throwing more than 500 animals per day into the companyâ€™s dumpsters and approximately 80 percent of the animals on the premises were identified as sick and dying at the time of seizure, Clifford Warwick, an exotic animal specialist, said in a SPCA press release.
The LHS took delivery of more than 100 exotic animals, on Feb. 10. The shipment included leopard lizards, trinket snakes, dragon agamas, tree frogs and exotic hamsters, among others. Many of the animals had trouble during the chaotic move.
â€śWeâ€™ve lost six of the 10 frogs that we received â€¦ In this case, the company in Texas was overcrowding them,â€ť Rentola said.
While a big part of the Humane Societyâ€™s mission is to deal with such cruelty and neglect, the people at the society say that most of those situations are avoidable.
â€śMany of them are preventable if somebody would just ask for help. â€¦ What we find is that people wait and get themselves in a situation where itâ€™s now out of hand,â€ť Rentola said.
Larimer Humane society
6317 Kyle Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80525
|Source: Collegian.com - Feb 25, 2010|
Update posted on Feb 25, 2010 - 1:05PM
|U.S. Global Exotics, an exotic pet dealer accused of animal cruelty and linked with a notorious wildlife smuggler based in Malaysia, will not be getting back of the 26,000 animals seized from their facility during a raid on December 15th, reports the Star-Telegram.|
On Saturday, Tarrant County Court Judge Jennifer Rymell affirmed Arlington Municipal Judge Michael Smith's decision that the Arlington-based U.S. Global Exotics mistreated its animals. The company will not regain custody of the animals, which have been housed by the SPCA of Texas at a cost of $10,000 per day since the seizure, which was the largest of its kind in U.S. history.
"All of the animals were subjected to poor air quality," Smith wrote in his order. "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."
Blue poison dart frog, a species that is commonly smuggled out of its native Suriname even though captive breeding populations exist in Europe and the United States.
"Many of the animals were unreasonably deprived of basic needs, such as food, water, clean bedding, and heat."
The animals included reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, arachnids, sloths, wallabies, and ring-tailed lemurs.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights activist group that has been raising funds for the animals under the care of the SPCA of Texas, said that is has been able to secure permanent homes for many of the animals with the Detroit Zoo. The group claims that many of the animals seized during the raid were "headed to PetSmart and PETCO distributors nationwide."
PETA also claimed that U.S. Global Exotics was sourcing animals from CBS Wildlife and Sungai Rusa Wildlife, companies owned by Anson Wong, a Malaysian wildlife trafficker sentenced to 71 months' in jail in 2000. Wong's business was recently the subject of The Lizard King, a book by Bryan Christy about the multi-billion-dollar reptile trade.
Peta is calling upon Malaysia to a ban its exotic pet trade and take action against Wong.
|Source: MongoBay - Feb 2, 2010|
Update posted on Mar 8, 2010 - 9:55AM
|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 ownersâ€™ 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 Smithâ€™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 didnâ€™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.
Smithâ€™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.
|Source: Star Telegram [Editorial] - Jan 6, 2010|
Update posted on Mar 8, 2010 - 9:53AM
|The Detroit Zoo welcomed hundreds of rescued animals Thursday night from among the nearly 27,000 animals seized Dec. 15 by federal authorities from an exotic-animal importing firm in Texas â€" in what animal experts have said was the largest exotic animal rescue effort in U.S. history.|
Their arrival followed a judgeâ€™s ruling that the animals were mistreated and will not be returned to U.S. Global Exotics, zoo spokesman Patricia Janeway said.
â€śWe are providing sanctuary for many of the exotic mammals,â€ť including five wallabies, four sloths, three agoutis, two ring-tailed lemurs and two coatis, as well as hundreds of reptiles, spiders and amphibians, Janeway said today.
In addition, the Detroit Zoo is helping to place hundreds more animals in other accredited zoos and sanctuaries throughout the country, she said. The zoo played a key role in the rescue, Janeway added. Several curators and supervisors from Detroitâ€™s staff have spent seven weeks since the raid caring for the animals, many of which were seriously ill, at a temporary rescue facility in Dallas, she said.
The amphibians will be cared for at the Detroit Zooâ€™s National Amphibian Conservation Center, considered a national leader in amphibian exhibition, conservation and research; the wallabies will join the zooâ€™s wallabies and red kangaroos at its Australian Outback Adventure exhibit, and â€śappropriate habitats are being prepared for the other animals,â€ť Janeway said.
â€śI do think we are part zoo and part sanctuary,â€ť Zoo Director Ron Kagan said last week, as the zoo prepared for the arrival of the rescued animals. All of them are to be quarantined for several weeks to ensure they are healthy before being allowed to mix with other animals, according to a zoo news release today.
The raid followed an undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. An Arlington, Texas, municipal judge ruled that the animals suffered from neglect and cruel conditions, and an appeal by the companyâ€™s owners to a higher court was denied last weekend, according to the news release.
|Source: Detroit News - February 5, 2010|
Update posted on Feb 5, 2010 - 3:48PM
|U.S. Global Exotics will not regain custody of the more than 27,000 animals seized from it by the city of Arlington, a county civil court judge decided.|
Judge Jennifer Rymell of Tarrant County Court at Law No. 2 affirmed Arlington Municipal Judge Michael Smithâ€™s decision that the international pet wholesaler had cruelly treated the animals, which were removed from U.S. Global Exotics on Dec. 15, 2010, in the largest animal cruelty seizure in U.S. history.
The animals, mostly reptiles and amphibians, were inhumanely confined in cramped and dirty cages and denied necessary food, water and veterinary care, Smith wrote in his order.
U.S. Global Exotics appealed the municipal court decision, arguing that the city violated the Constitution in seizing the companyâ€™s entire animal inventory without providing enough evidence that all were cruelly treated.
The company has been closed since the raid, and the owners, Jasen and Vanessa Shaw, have not decided whether they will reopen, said Lance Evans, an attorney for the Shaws.
Rymellâ€™s decision cannot be appealed.
The city will turn over ownership of the animals to the SPCA of Texas, which has cared for them since the raid.
The nonprofit agency, which has spent about $10,000 a day on the animalsâ€™ care, has already made arrangements with zoos, sanctuaries and rescue groups to give the animals permanent homes.
|Source: Star Telegram News - January 30, 2010|
Update posted on Jan 31, 2010 - 10:53PM
- Star Telegram - Dec 16, 2009 Star Telegram News - January 30, 2010 Tarrant County Municipal Court Order 4909-D - December 15, 2009 SPCA of Houston - January 30, 2010
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