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300 pets confiscated at Okaloosa school


From rats to rabbits to exotic snakes, about 300 animals have been removed from an Okaloosa County school.

They were surrendered after investigators found them in unhealthy conditions at the Choice High School and Technical Center. There are lots of questions about exactly what they were doing there.

Some of the animals found at the Choice Institute, like these budgies, are more what you'd think of as pets. Behind me is a dove, over there finches are bustling about their cages. The variety of animals, found in sheds and outbuildings, is incredible.

The animals were being kept as part of the veterinary technician training program at Choice High School. They were found with almost no food, in many cases no water, dirty bedding, and little protection from the elements.

Dee Thompson of the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society says the most troubling discovery was a nine-foot green anaconda, a dangerous, non-native snake that is not legal to keep. Students as young as ninth grade were allowed to enter the buildings unsupervised.

"They've actually told me they were charged with going in there to clean on the weekends. It's very frightening to me as a parent with a child in school. I am sure that most people were not aware of the animals that were there," said Dee Thompson from PAWS.

The superintendent of schools says they are investigating. She says the 50 students will be able to finish the program and get their certifications.

The director of PAWS tells me they hope to find homes for all the animals, or give them to pet stores so they can adopt them out.