Animal Services working to remove dozens of animals left at warehouse

Feb 7, 2018, 6:46 AM | Updated: 10:33 pm

MIDVALE — Salt Lake County Animal Services workers are removing dozens of venomous snakes, poisonous spiders, alligators, turtles and other creatures left at a warehouse for two weeks by the embattled owner of a reptile rescue.

James Dix, owner of Reptile Rescue Service, had left the roughly 100 critters at the warehouse on Jan. 22, according to workers.

“He promised to have these animals out of here in two days,” said Kyle Workman, one of the workers. “It’s been two weeks-plus.”

Workman said Dix had only returned once since that time, and several of the workers had tried to feed and care for the reptiles themselves over concerns of their well-being, despite little experience of how to do so.

He characterized the situation as Dix, a sub-contractor for the organization, essentially dropping the reptiles in the workers’ laps.

“It more or less came down to, ‘you will watch these animals,’” Workman said. “‘You employ me, you are obligated to help me.’”

Workman said he ultimately contacted Salt Lake County Animal Services.

“See, one of the lizards has died,” Workman said, pointing to a carcass. “We’ve had a few turtles perish.”

Salt Lake County Animal Services spokesperson Callista Pearson said workers planned to assess and remove the creatures Wednesday morning with the help of experts from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Inside the warehouse was an SUV belonging to Dix that was marked with caution signs about venomous snakes and reptiles inside.

Pearson said Dix was already under investigation for suspicion of animal cruelty and abandonment, after workers roughly two weeks ago removed and relocated nearly 150 animals from a space in Magna that Dix had been occupying.

Pearson said a quarter of the animals appeared to be undernourished.

“It looked to us as if he had not fed or watered them for an extended period of time,” Pearson said.

She said county prosecutors would ultimately have to screen the case.

Dix, who was awaiting surgery Thursday night, said it was not unusual for his service to receive animals that were undernourished, and he suggested that the recent matter in Magna was simply part of an ongoing dispute with the county.

He maintained that the animals that remained under his care were generally well cared-for.

Workman said the reptiles left at the warehouse would likely receive better care if turned over to animal services.

“This is not the environment for these reptiles,” Workman said. “It’s not our responsibility as a business owner to take care of rescued animals.”

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Animal Services working to remove dozens of animals left at warehouse