Police Arrest Man for Torturing Tortoise

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

VENTURA, Calif. – A man who police believe tortured an endangered tortoise by trying to cut him out of his shell and throwing him against a wall was arrested Thursday.

The 25-year-old African spurred tortoise, named Bob, was slashed and stabbed after being stolen from the home of an autistic boy. After he was brutalized, the turtle was dumped in brush behind an apartment complex and an anonymous caller told the family where to find him.

Witnesses to the torture provided information that helped lead to the arrest of Jose “Tony” Mosqueda, 18, of Ventura, who was booked at the county jail for investigation of cruelty to animals and grand theft, police said.

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“It’s a good feeling. It’s kind of neat,” Sgt. Jack Richards said. “It just really pulled at some heartstrings and it’s good to have someone in custody.”

The turtle is recovering at Turtle Dreams, a Montecito rehabilitation center. He remained in guarded condition and was being fed through a tube in his neck.

“He’s getting more relaxed and coming out of his shell” more often, said Jeanie Vaughan, the center’s owner. “If he continues without any infection, I think he’s going to be fine.”

Earlier this week, he gave owners Dorothy and Bill Sullivan some hope when he reached a key milestone in his recovery: bringing his head out of his shell and taking his first steps.

The tortoise collapsed but then managed to take eight steps.

“When he finished, he had a tear in his eye … as did the rest of us,” Dorothy Sullivan said. “It was an excellent, great sign.”

Dorothy Sullivan said that she and her son danced with happiness when they heard of the arrest. Her son has not been sleeping well since the attack, she said.

“His security fell apart,” she said. “He was afraid that somebody was going to come and steal him and take him away and hurt him.”

“Now he feels safe. Now he can go out and play,” she said.

The family has installed security cameras and an alarm on the backyard fence so that Bob will be safer when he returns.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)