THORNTON, COLO. (CBS4) – The Adams County Sheriff’s Office said on Thursday that the impatience of an animal rights organization has hampered the investigation into possible animal abuse at a Thornton pet store.
The county said the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleged the abuse of pets at Willard’s Rodent Farm in a media release. The investigation into that business is related to one at Jurassic Pets, where police seized lizards, snakes and rodents this week. The owners at Jurassic Pets were tipped off by PETA, the county said, and might have destroyed evidence.READ MORE: Denver Weather: Arctic Blast Of Snow, Near Record Cold Arrives Monday
In a written statement, the sheriff’s office said:
“Unfortunately, the impatience of the PETA representatives in their information release has gravely jeopardized the likelihood of charges being filed in this case for essentially tipping off the owners of the Willard’s Rodent Farm to the investigation. The release of information without first consulting the Sheriff’s Office has provided any suspects time to destroy any evidence of the abuse that may have remained.”
Thornton investigators removed animals from Jurassic Pets as evidence. On Thursday, they searched the store for a second day. Police wouldn’t comment on their investigation or what they’ve found. The store has been charged with animal cruelty before.
PETA sent police a report citing what it calls a pattern of abuse at Jurassic Pets, alleging that dozens of animals were mistreated, starved and abused to death.
Suzette Novak-Shive told CBS4 she gave her bearded dragon to the store because she couldn’t keep it.READ MORE: Worker Installing Sewage Line Killed After Trench Collapses, Trapping Man in Rising Water
“It’s scary because I don’t know if he’s being taken care of right or if they… What they’re doing to him,” she said.
The brother of a store employee said the store isn’t a problem and it’s clean and run well.
“They’re all, like, flabbergasted,” Zackery Huptman said.
The sheriff’s office said it couldn’t take the case immediately because it’s investigating a triple homicide.
But charges may still happen. Thornton police said they have plenty of evidence against the store.MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?
PETA released this statement on Friday in regards to the case: Adams County Sheriff’s Office’s (ACSO) news release attempts to justify inaction, despite the mountains of fresh evidence that PETA provided to the ACSO more than 10 weeks ago and again this week documenting thousands of animals in imminent danger of death from starvation, dehydration, untreated injuries, drowning in flooded enclosures, and other ways—all in violation of Colorado’s animal-protection laws. The sheriff’s office has ample evidence to secure a warrant and file charges and would have only itself to blame for any destruction of evidence, since it didn’t act in tandem with the Thornton Police Department as it had pledged to do in early October. Also, the raid on Jurassic Pets alone would have tipped off the perpetrators. PETA intends to cooperate fully, but time is going by, and immediate action is required of ACSO. Every additional minute wasted on ACSO’s part leaves countless rats, mice, and other animals in danger.