Turtles sold in Clovis can be surrendered safely

Animals handed out at Big Hat Days could carry salmonella.

April 8, 2009 

Fresno County officials are still trying to learn why turtles known to carry salmonella were handed out at a Clovis festival over the weekend.

Eight red-eared slider turtles have been voluntarily turned in to animal control shelters in Fresno and Clovis.

Clovis police were advised by a woman who bought a turtle for her child at the Big Hat Days festival that she thought it was the type that's known to carry salmonella, said Janet Stoll-Lee, Clovis police spokeswoman.

Stoll-Lee said the girl's mother bought the turtle after her daughter saw several being carried by other children at the event last weekend.

After bringing the turtle home, the mother looked up the turtle species on the Internet and learned they could carry salmonella, she said.

The Clovis Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors Big Hat Days, contracts with a vendor who hires the carnival vendors, said Fran Blackney, Clovis Chamber of Commerce communications director.

She said about 20 turtles and some goldfish were bought by the vendor at a Fresno store.

The vendor didn't know he should not be selling them, Blackney said.

When Clovis police confirmed the species could carry salmonella, they advised the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

Six turtles were turned in at the Central California Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said Beth Caffrey, the SPCA's humane education administrator.

"We want to make sure people do turn them in and do not put them in a canal somewhere," Caffrey said.

She said people who want to buy a turtle can call the SPCA for information.

Tim Casagrande, the county's environmental health director, said the vendor was unaware of the danger the turtles posed.

The reporter can be reached at mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6166.

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