Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal
With recent reports of Salmonella outbreaks linked to small turtles arising across the United States, Petco and its partner, Concordia Turtle Farm, have responded with their “Turtle Relinquishment Program.” However, PETA urges the public to beware, describing the program as “a deceptively named ploy” that steals turtles from their unsuspecting guardians and resells them into the pet trade through a turtle meat farm.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is encouraging anyone with an aquatic turtle small than the federally mandated four-inch carapace length to give them up in an effort to prevent the further spread of Salmonella. However, Petco stores are accepting any aquatic turtle, regardless of size.
“The sale and distribution of turtles with carapace lengths less than four inches has been prohibited in the United States since 1975,” said Dr. Thomas Edling, Vice President of Veterinary Medicine. “Yet they are still available for illegal purchase through street vendors, flea markets, and fairs. Most of these turtles come from substandard breeding farms that do not utilize the latest egg disinfecting, hatching and grow out technologies to reduce the chance of Salmonella in their turtles.”
Concordia Turtle Farms in Louisiana prides itself on being a family owned and operated producer of farm-raised turtles as well as the “largest commercial turtle farm in the United States.” According to PETA, the farm houses approximately 200,000 adult turtles in only 17 ponds. Concordia is also said to breed 60,000 pet turtles a year for Petco alone, while exporting over two million turtle hatchlings overseas every year—mostly to China, where they are eventually slaughtered for meat.
Concordia has also said that it will “treat” the turtles for salmonella, however there really is no way of doing this as reptiles naturally carry the bacteria in their intestinal tract.
Petco informed PETA that families giving up their turtles are told that the animals will “get to grow up” at Concordia, while admitting the turtles are are then recycled back into the pet trade.
“If PETCO truly cared about protecting children and families from salmonella, it would stop selling turtles—not funnel them into the pet trade for profit,” said PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETCO’s ‘relinquishment’ program is nothing but a scam that will send family pets to a filthy factory farm and compromise human health by perpetuating the ownership of captive turtles and the risk of salmonella poisoning.”
There is no doubt that this business deal brings up several major concerns. Therefore, PETA is asking its supporters to contact PETCO CEO James Myers and urge him to stop perpetuating the suffering of turtles.