Ruling on custody of exotic animals expected soon



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Posted on January 28, 2010 at 8:17 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 29 at 12:55 AM

FORT WORTH — A ruling is expected before midnight Saturday on the fate of nearly 27,000 exotic animals that were seized from an Arlington business last month.

U.S. Global Exotics sold animals to pet stores and other buyers.   But after an undercover investigation by the animal rights group PETA, a municipal judge ruled that the animals had been cruelly treated and could not be returned to U.S. Global Exotics. 

"The unfortunate part about this is, as a practical effect, this seizure by the City of Arlington basically put U.S. Global out of business," said company lawyer Lance Evans.

The business appealed the decision to Tarrant County Court at Law #2.   In a hearing Thursday, attorneys for PETA argued that the county court had no authority over the case, and that the matter was settled.   

The judge ruled she does have authority, and that she  would make a decision on the fate of the animals.

"If there's one saving grace to this, it's that we'll know within 72 hours what the court's going to do," said Don Feare, an attorney representing PETA. "This is, of course, the largest seizure of animals for cruelty in the world."

The exotic creatures are now being cared for by the SPCA of Texas, which says it has spent about $300,000 on the unprecedented challenge.  

If the company's appeal is denied, the SPCA will begin releasing the animals to zoos and sanctuaries.