Police quell rumor of chinchillas on loose at Monessen park | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Police quell rumor of chinchillas on loose at Monessen park

Renatta Signorini
1072309_web1_gtr-NoChinchillas001-042619
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Rhonda Fiffik, 42, of Monessen, on Thursday, April 25, 2019, shows off some of her chinchillas that were rumored to have been released at Monessen City Park.
1072309_web1_gtr-NoChinchillas002-042619
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Rhonda Fiffik, 42, of Monessen, on Thursday, April 25, 2019, shows off some of her chinchillas that were rumored to have been released at Monessen City Park.

Reports of a chinchilla infestation at Monessen City Park turned out to be false, despite social media claims that a local breeder set 60 of the exotic rodents loose in the Monongahela River town, according to police Chief Jim Smith.

“To the best of our knowledge, that didn’t happen,” Smith said Thursday.

Police investigated a report posted on Facebook this week but found all of the animals owned by breeder Rhonda Fiffik to be in her control at a Monessen home. Fiffik said Thursday that the ordeal was frustrating and she said she is considering civil action against those who perpetuated the rumor.

“I let (police) in to say how can I release 60 chinchillas when they’re sitting here,” Fiffik said.

A woman who posted the Facebook message did not respond to an interview request from the Tribune-Review.

Fiffik said she has been breeding chinchillas for seven years and has traveled to shows in Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio. She plans to move the chinchillas out of the Monessen home.

“I would never release them,” she said.

Chinchillas are nocturnal animals native to South America, where they live in the Andes Mountains, according to the Animal Humane Society. They weigh a few pounds and have big ears and long tails. Their coats come in a variety of colors.

Fiffik said she sells the animals as pets and educates new chinchilla owners on how to best care for them. A standard gray chinchilla can be sold for $100, but the cost depends on the animal’s coloring and breed quality, she said.

She said she has a rare female chinchilla that she wouldn’t sell for less than $650 and a male that she wouldn’t part with for any offers under $500.

While the situation has been stressful, Fiffik has gotten amusement out of people searching the park for the creatures.

“These animals are taken care of,” she said of her chinchillas.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.