Turtle Rescued After Being Taped To Balloons

Woman Who Reported Incident Defends Herself From Criticism

Authorities are looking for whoever taped a turtle to several balloons and sent it flying in an Oceanside neighborhood.

» Video: Woman Who Reported Turtle Incident Speaks Against Critics

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According to authorities, the incident happened last Sunday afternoon on Humboldt Bay Way.

The turtle was spotted duct-taped and dangling from balloons that were caught high up in a eucalyptus tree. Some neighbors next door saw what was going on and tried to help the turtle.

"We look up and there's green and blue balloons up there," said resident Chanelle Wright. "He was just swinging his arms trying to get out of it. Somebody had taped him to the balloons."

Wright told 10News, "I called the Humane Society to try to get the fire department out here, but it took about an hour for everybody to actually show up."

In the meantime, the turtle hung dangling in the wind. That's when Joel Rabago's mother got out her camera and started taking video of the hanging turtle.

"When something like this happens, she always takes the video camera, no matter what it is," Rabagos said.

The Oceanside Fire Department eventually arrived with a big ladder truck, but as they were about to rescue the turtle, a gust of wind blew him down to earth.

10News video showed a Humane Society employee cutting the turtle free from the balloons. The employee said it was a box turtle.

The animal wasn't physically hurt, but both Wright and Rabagos are outraged that anyone could treat an animal in such a cruel way.

"What were you thinking? I mean, a turtle is still life. There's no reason to be putting him up in a balloon and sending him off," Rabagos said.

"It's animal abuse. If you didn't want the turtle, give it away, take it to a pet store," Wright said.

The turtle is now being held at the Oceanside Humane Society while an investigation is conducted.

If no one claims it, Wright said she and her family are ready to give it a new loving home.

"I am going to call to see if the turtle's there … I'm going to get my turtle," she said.

Wright also opened herself up to criticism, and it came hard and fast.

"There are accusations saying it was my family who did it from one of my neighbors who commented on Facebook… yes, where she didn't see anything and labeled me and my family as thugs," Wright told 10News on Wednesday.

The 10News Facebook page was bombarded with comments such as this one: "'Why don't you try asking the little boy that visits his grandma who taped the turtle to the balloon?'"

Another user wrote a comment that read, "'No living thing deserves to be needlessly hurt… people, animals or insects.'"

10News spoke with the woman who initially faced off with Wright. She said she now believes Wright and apologized.

"Don't say… you've seen something with your eyes and make a bunch of ruckus and call us names and tell me you're watching me and then apologize," said Wright. "I'm not accepting it at all."

The Humane Society had the turtle checked out and is canvassing the neighborhood.

"We proceed by checking with everybody in the neighborhood and see if anybody saw anything, who might know who the owner of the turtle is," said Lt. Melyssa Jones, who is with the Humane Society.

If detectives can find out who taped the turtle to the balloons, they could face charges of animal abuse.

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