She was one of nearly 50 animals that died after the Chelmsford pet store was broken into during the early morning hours of Jan. 9. According to shop owner John Cameron, suspects shattered a glass pane near the back entrance of the store to get in. They left with a cash register, the donation jar and the money inside.
When they left, they also left a gaping hole behind them. Cold air filtered into the store all night, causing serious harm to the exotic critters in the store.
“If (the animals are) in the way of a draft coming in, they will get pneumonia,” Cameron explained. “It doesn’t take long. It’s 30 (degrees) below, and a reptile is supposed to be at 80 (degrees). It doesn’t take long — they just die.
“Everyday, we’ve had to clean up dead animals,” Cameron said.
The long-time animal breeder and retailer said between the items that were stolen and the animals that have died, it put him about $10,000 behind.
What really bothers him though is the lack of regard for life the criminals exhibited.
“If me and you were to do that to a bunch of animals, we would be charged,” he said. “It’s inhumane. For whoever did it, it’s pretty low. Stealing is one thing, but leaving a hole in the window for animals to die, when they know they are tropical animals, that takes a whole level less than a thief.
“To have no respect (for lives), it gives you an idea of the mentality of the person who did it,” he said.
In the week after the robbery, Cameron was still picking up the pieces.
A kinkajou living in one of the larger cages was released into the store — Cameron knows the animal is alive and well because his food disappears every night, but he hasn’t been able to spot him since the incident.
Other animals were just beginning to return to their usual selves five days later.
“They’re still distressed and shocked,” Cameron said. “They’re just getting around to their normal feeding habits now because they’re stressed. They wouldn’t even come to me — they normally come to me every morning.”
Police were called to the shop first thing Monday morning, and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has been notified.
Cameron said he believes the SPCA will help him by charging the people responsible for causing so many deaths.
“This was just a blatant act of cruelty,” he said.
“A lot of animals (are dead) for nothing. It’s just wanton destruction.”