Monday, August 20, 2007

Mutilated Tortoise Is Friend to Boy

Tortured tortoise leaves rehab, returns to family
Bob, a 42-pound pet, was slashed and mutilated after being stolen
AP, 08/18/2007

VENTURA -- Bob, a 42-pound pet tortoise who was slashed and mutilated after being stolen from a family's yard, has returned home following more than a month in a rehabilitation center.

Bob heartily ate his first meal of hibiscus flowers and roses after having a feeding tube pulled out of his neck, owner Dorothy Sullivan said Friday.

"He's eating like a pig," she said. "He's doing great and we're pretty excited."

The 25-year-old African spurred tortoise was snatched from Sullivan's yard on July 7. Police following an anonymous tip found Bob behind an apartment complex several days later.

Bob's hind legs were badly cut, a toe was cut off, his neck was slashed and his shell was punctured with a sharp object. The attacker tried to cut the animal out of his shell and threw him against a wall, police said.

Jose "Tony" Mosqueda, 18, of Ventura, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty. He pleaded not guilty and faces three years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

Sullivan said Bob is a friend to her 6-year-old autistic son, William, who rarely spoke to people but chattered to the animal. She said the boy was withdrawn while Bob was staying at Turtle Dreams, a Montecito rehab center, but he has started talking again since Bob came back.

"It's made a good impact on our son. He's sleeping through the night and he's opening up," Sullivan said.

Sullivan and her husband have built a temporary enclosure with a screen to give Bob room to exercise and keep flies away from his scars. The animal will undergo more surgery to repair deep slash wounds under his neck and legs.

"He's still got a long road to recovery," she said.

Bob's plight made headlines across the country and prompted a flood of calls from people wanting to help. A benefit concert was planned Sunday at a Ventura night club to raise money to help pay the animal's veterinary bills.

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