The owner of a clothing store in the Carrick neighborhood of Pittsburgh has pleaded guilty to 105 counts of animal cruelty for illegally selling hatchlings of turtles raised in poor conditions.
According to Mike Manko, spokesperson for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.
Christian also agreed to pay a fine of $ 500.
Police say Christian hatched and sold red-eared turtles at his Brownsville Road store, Al Shatel Halal Adornments, that are less than 4 inches in size, which is illegal in Pennsylvania.
Humane Animal Rescue’s animal cruelty officers said the turtles sold by Christian were not receiving proper care.
Police first inspected the store in August 2020 after receiving a complaint about the turtles, which were advertised for sale for $ 20 each on a sign in the store window.
Officers found a 10-gallon tank on the ground filled with 80 turtle hatchlings, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.
Katie Kefalso, senior director of the Humane Animal Rescue Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, accompanied the police to inspect the store. She said a 10 gallon tank would be the right size for a single turtle hatchling.
She said the turtles also had no access to the sun and there was no light in the aquarium. There were also no rocks that the turtles could climb on to get out of the water, and they “had no way to eat.”
The tank did not contain enough water and the little it did have was “dirty” because there was no filtration system, Kefalso said.
Police said they found 17 other turtle hatchlings in the store that were kept in small containers with no water at all.
Many newborns were suffering from malnutrition, swelling of the eyes and feet and respiratory infections, according to the complaint.
Police said Christian had agreed to return all turtles along with the tank and other equipment to the store. The turtles were taken to Nate’s Reptile Rescue in South Park.
Two months after police shut down the turtle hatching operation, they said they received a report that Christian was once again selling turtles in the store.
A male and female detective posing as a married couple buying a turtle for their child went to the store on November 1 to verify the report, according to the complaint.
A woman working in the store went next to retrieve a 1-inch turtle hatchling offered for sale for $ 20, according to the affidavit.
Police returned to the store with a search warrant on November 5 and confiscated eight other turtles that were still kept in poor conditions at adjacent properties.
Of the 105 turtles confiscated from the store, 11 died, police said.