KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A beloved local turtle is gone and possibly destroyed. The owner of Pet-Topia in Kansas City says it was confiscated by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The pet store off Vivion Road is a place for many to find a new pet. However, owner Christopher Hufford said sometimes people bring them back. The store has several familiar faces to customers, like Biscuit the parrot and Charlie the laughing ring-necked dove.
“We’ve always been that store that will. A chinchilla, a guinea pig, a ferret. In this case, some turtles,” Hufford said.
Myrtle the turtle stood out to everyone.
“He was not the kind of turtle that would run and hide,” Hufford said. “He would just sit up on the rocks and almost greet you when you showed up. He was just different.”
He was rescued after being hit by a car and taken to Shoal Creek Animal Hospital. Then someone brought Myrtle to Pet-Topia where he’s been for the past three years. Manager Claire Mallory said some people would immediately go to Myrtle the minute they came in the store.
“He quickly became one of the store mascots,” Mallory said. “We had him in a couple ponds around the store. A lot of customers grew really close to it.”
On Wednesday, Hufford said a Missouri Department of Conservation agent came into the store. He said it’s legal to have a red-eared slider like Myrtle if you have a receipt showing it was purchased out of state. However, the three turtles who live at the store — including Myrtle — were rescued and didn’t have one.
Hufford said the turtles were confiscated, and he was told they would be destroyed.
“Absolutely unnecessary to take the lives of these things when there were other options,” Hufford said. “We offered to take them to a preserve down by the Kansas City Zoo, let them quarantine them, release them to the preserve — that wasn’t an option.”
Hufford said the turtles they confiscated were not for sale, and they were able to keep only one of the pets because the breed is not native to Missouri.
“The customers that came in to see him, the kids that knew him,” Hufford said, “to some it was the first thing they ran to when they came in. For three years that turtle resort was on our sales floor and kids would see it.”
He hopes the Department of Conservation will rethink situations like this in the future. He said there is a better way than destroying the turtles and using the term destroy is harsh.
“I understand it, but something needs to change,” Hufford said. “There needs to at least be a quarantine attempt. These were perfectly healthy turtles. They could have gone somewhere. There were other options.”
Hufford said they received a warning about the turtles and a citation for a milk snake.
The Department of Conservation confirms they did confiscate turtles from Pet-Topia. An investigation and possible charges are pending. They did not comment if the turtles were in fact destroyed.