SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Humane Society is struggling to find out what happened to the 318 small animals they delivered to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

Now, independent investigators have followed the route of the small creatures to a dead end to a Maricopa reptile shop.  

“Our leading theory and most people’s leading theory is that these animals ended up as food for reptiles. The very fact that they were sent through an online reptile store called the ‘Fertile Turtle’ can lead nobody to any other conclusion, we hope it’s not the case, but it’s impossible to think otherwise,” said Gary Weitzman, the president of the San Diego Humane Society.   

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona initially offered to help find homes for the 318 rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and rats, delighting the San Diego Humane Society. The animals were shipped out and the trail went cold and messages stopped.

Now, the board members of Arizona’s HSSA have fired the CEO Steve Farley and the COO has resigned over the lost animals.

“We did so due to their terribly negligent actions against the mission of the humane society and their failure to follow protocols among other reasons,” said Robert Garcia, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona Board President.   

When the realization hit, there was no way one location could find homes for hundreds of small critters the San Diego Humane demanded answers. Roughly 64 animals were recovered, but the rest vanished without any records. 

“I have no idea what they were thinking to do something as absolutely demonic as this,” Weitzman said.

The HSSA board members have vowed to regain the public’s trust.

“We can do better, the Humane Society board is committed to do better. We have a lot of work to do,” Garcia said.