VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 34   |   AUGUST 24 - 30, 2011


“Man’s inhumanity to…animals” sends Phoenix Herpetological Society to the rescue!

Seven reptiles, including five pythons, now safely sanctuaried at PHS in north Scottsdale; but sadly, twenty-eight animals remain at life-risk
PHS Chairman and President Russ Johnson expertly holds the head of a 16-ft.
Reticulated Python, indigenous to Southeast Asia, while CuratorDan Marchand “brings up the tail” of this magnificent creature: August 23 photography by Sonoran News in the Society’s new Education Center.  Contacted by “Animal Planet,” Johnson, Marchand and PHS Board Member Wendy Cassidy on Monday,
Aug, 22, rescued seven reptiles from the neglect of a male “hoarder” living in a trailer “somewhere” in northwest Arizona. The exact location of this young man, who appeared to be in his mid-to-late-20s, was unauthorizedly disclosed by certain media outlets in Phoenix. Sonoran News elects to honor the location confidentiality in PHS’s agreement with “Animal Planet,” the execution of which agreement enabled the rescue effort to go forward.

SCOTTSDALE – August 23.  Over the August 19-21 weekend, a production crew, working at a location in northwest Arizona for “Animal Planet,” had been filming for programming titled “Confessions:  Animal Hoarding,” scheduled to air in November 2011.  It appears that “Animal Planet,” itself, had been tipped off by the male hoarder’s younger sister, probably fearing for the safety of her four-year old daughter and her brother’s six-year old son,  neither a match against an escaped 16-foot Reticulated Python!  Pythons are not venomous; but adults have 150 razor-sharp teeth -- to which Russ Johnson can painfully attest!

The hoarder had in his possession over 30 snakes and lizards, some native to Arizona -- but none permitted as required by Arizona Game & Fish. When “Animal Planet” representatives contacted PHS as a potential rescuing entity, Johnson and Curator Dan Marchand were led to believe that the hoarder had been persuaded to give up all his animals, many of which PHS would find to be seriously underfed and lacking essential medication. The hoarder was jobless, apparently depending on his sister to fund the care of his reptile menagerie, supplemented by cottontail rabbits and birds he killed with a B.B. gun!  The premises, as described by Johnson and

Marchand to Sonoran News, were “straight out of ‘Deliverance’,” lacking only “Dueling Banjos” on the entrance porch of the hoarder’s trailer! Readers, you get the picture of animal neglect and cruelty.

When Johnson, Marchand and PHS Board Member Ms. Wendy Cassidy arrived at mid-day, the hoarder had changed his mind, offering only to give up one of the three Reticulated Pythons in his possession, each of which was over 10 ft. in length. Johnson was apoplectic! But as Marchand explained, “We found ourselves in the position of negotiating – not demanding.”  He described the sister as “helpful and cooperative.” And after three hours of negotiating with the hoarder, the PHS delegation was able to depart “with all of the big snakes” (the three Reticulated Pythons, one 10’ Albino Burmese Python, one 3’ African Ball Python and two tiny Collared Lizards, lovable Arizona creatures, both obviously undernourished).

And what of the 28 reptiles left behind? The caring folks at PHS, admired friends of this newspaper, can’t allow themselves to dwell upon that anguish. Russ, Dan and Wendy did their best, their hands legally tied by the non-disclosure agreement required by “Animal Planet.” Hopefully, the current media attention and “Animal Planet’s” November programming will have both local Animal Control and Arizona Game & Fish arriving at the hoarder’s trailer before the calendar turns.

Think for a moment upon this: suppose there were no PHSes to rescue God’s defenseless creatures?

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