Dozens of animals, reptiles seized from home where 5-foot gator named Chomp escaped
Pittsburgh police and animal control removed nearly three dozen animals Tuesday from the Beechview home of a man who has also claimed the five-foot alligator previously found wandering Rutherford Avenue.
Mark McGowan, owner of Jungle’s Edge Exotics, has said the alligator found Thursday night – named Chomp – escaped from the home while he was cleaning Chomp’s enclosure. McGowan and friends have started a GoFundMe page to raise money to get the alligator back.
But police said in a statement Tuesday that McGowan faces possible criminal charges after authorities seized 32 animals, mostly reptiles, from the home.
“(Animal welfare officers) examined the living conditions for every animal in the house and seized any animal or reptile that was deemed to be living in substandard conditions,” Public Safety spokesman Chris Togneri said in a statement.
Those animals were taken to Humane Animal Rescue in Pittsburgh, where Chomp and two other alligators found roaming the city recently were taken. The three alligators will go to Cape May County Zoo in New Jersey until they can be transported to a sanctuary in Florida, according to Humane Animal Rescue.
Togneri said animals that were being well-cared for – several poisonous snakes and toads, pythons and tarantulas – were allowed to remain in the home.
Amber Jordan said in an email Tuesday morning that she and McGowan run an organization called Creatures and Creep Rods, which she described as a nonprofit that plans and promotes shows to raise money for other nonprofit organizations.
Jordan said McGowan used Chomp, the escapee alligator, to educate and entertain people and “help them understand more about reptiles and also help them overcome their fears.”
She said in the email, which was sent prior to the seizure of 32 animals, that McGowan is hurting over the loss of Chomp. She said she has a small alligator, and they become attached to their owners.
“I know there are irresponsible people who most definitely should not own such animals, but Mark is not one of them,” Jordan said.
The animals seized Tuesday were:
- 3 Alligators (including one with a bloody neck injury)
- 1 Burmese Python
- 1 Granite Burmese Python
- 1 Rattlesnake
- 2 Green Iguanas
- 2 Small Iguanas
- 1 Nile Monitor Lizard
- 4 Hairless Rats
- 4 Quails
- 5 Yellow-Bellied Slider turtles (including one dead turtle in the aquarium)
- 6 Rabbits (including five pregnant rabbits)
- 2 Guinea Pigs
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .