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Sulcata Tortoise Snagged in Theft Binge

WEDNESDAY, May 11, 2016 – Betty is back with Barney.

Betty Rubble, a 22-year-old sulcata tortoise, ended up in the back seat of a stolen car last week. But Riverside Police officers caught up with the couple suspected of stealing the car – and an array of other items, including tortoise-napped Betty.

On Friday (May 6), the officers kindly transported Betty to the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley to ensure a proper reptile reunion. One day later, tortoise owner Marilyn Gursha retrieved her beloved pet and reunited her with Barney Rubble, her yard mate at Ms. Gursha’s Norco property.

“It’s a made-for-a-TV story,” Ms. Gursha said. “She was out there joy riding with the car thieves. But she’s not talking about it much.”

Although she is finding some humor in the story now, Ms. Gursha was worried about Betty’s disappearance. “She does get stressed,” she said.

One of the officers she spoke with at Riverside Police told her the couple claimed they found the tortoise “down in the river bottom.” Ms. Gursha’s reaction? “Yeah, right.”

One day before she went missing, there was much commotion in her neighborhood. A water main broke, she said. She said she thinks that’s when the thieves were “casing the area” and discovered Betty in her front yard. The next day they simply plucked her away. That’s Gursha’s theory, at least.

Betty is usually a bit of a loner, but she seemed to be a bit more social with Barney when the pair reconnected. “She’s not overtly friendly,” Ms. Gursha said. “She kind of does her own thing. But they were staying close together quite a while.”

Even though the two were separated for just one day, it is a reunion Ms. Gursha said she didn’t think would happen. “It’s like a one-in-a-million chance I got her back,” she said. “I feel very lucky.” 

Contact a Shelter

Western Riverside: (951) 358-7387 (PETS)
San Jacinto: (951) 358-7387
Coachella Valley: (760) 343-3644
Blythe: (760) 921-7857

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