The Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSA) has released the findings of its internal investigation into the disappearance of over 300 animals transferred from the San Diego Humane Society in August.

Interim CEO Beth Morrison expressed the organization’s commitment to preventing such incidents in the future, stating, “We are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure an animal never experiences such an outcome again.”

Following the internal investigation, investigator Terry Flores from ‘Options & Resolutions’ revealed that over 63 hours of documents and interviews found former CEO Steve Farley and former COO Christian Gonzales negligent in the transferring of 323 animals.

“This incident was the result of a failure of leadership to conduct due diligence in exploring and understanding the magnitude of accepting such an unusually large animal transfer from a sister organization,” Flores stated.

The investigation disclosed that Gonzales acted independently in organizing the transfer and in the decision to transfer the animals to Colton Jones, who is suspected of using a majority of them as reptile food.

Additionally, Farley was aware of the transfer, and supported the decision, but was unaware of who would receive the animals, leading Flores to conclude, “Policies were either sidestepped or ignored.”

A text message to a local reporter suggested Jones’ intent with the 261 animals that were never returned. Flores remarked, ” [It] creates a reasonable belief Jones may have used some of the animals for those purposes.”

With the investigation concluded, the organization is now focused on restructuring past policies and procedures as it seeks to hire a permanent CEO within the next six months.

HSSA Board Chair Robert Garcia stated that Jones has denied the allegations, but the Tucson Police Department (T-P-D) is still investigating. The organization will continue to collaborate with the department and the prosecutor should criminal charges be filed.

The full report can be found here.