San Diego Humane Society and SPCA rescue 420 chinchillas from Vista ranch

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA Wednesday announced the largest animal rescue in its history -- 420 chinchillas taken in from a ranch in Vista.

The eight-hour operation that took place Tuesday was prompted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, according to the Humane Society.

"We received a request from PETA to rescue and care for the chinchillas from a Vista-based business they procured," said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of San Diego Humane Society. "Every animal matters, and we take our responsibility to care for and protect all animals in our community."

PETA contends that chinchillas that weren't purchased as pets were electrocuted. Their pelts were then removed and put up for sale, according to PETA.

Upon arrival at San Diego Humane Society, veterinarians and animal welfare professionals examined the animals for health and well-being.

Special veterinary care, housing enclosures, food and medical supplies, and space preparation are necessary to care for the large volume of animals, according to the Humane Society.

"We weren't necessarily expecting 400 chinchillas on top of the nearly 2,000 animals we're already caring for, but it's our mission to help all animals who need us," Weitzman said.

The chinchillas will be put up for adoption after they're determined to be healthy. The Humane Society said the animals will also be provided any necessary "behavior modification" before they're given to families.

Chinchillas are native to South America but have become popular companion pets in recent years. Similar to guinea pigs, rabbits, and other small pets, Chinchillas can be sweet, social and trainable, according to the Humane Society.

For information on the chinchillas, including adoption info, visit: http://www.sdhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=OperationChinchilla

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