An animal rights group caring for nearly 1,000 turtles that were rescued from the back of a van in West Hills is asking the public for donations to help the reptiles recuperate from dehydration and other illnesses.
Rose Channer, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Southern California Humane Society, said Monday that all 950 of the animals are under the care of a veterinarian.
"We need some help," said Channer, whose agency has been housing the terrapins, or freshwater turtles, since they were found in an apartment complex parking lot on Friday.
"We've got people out buying 20 kids' pools right now, without the slides."
In addition to purchasing water habitats, Channer said the agency needs donations to buy turtle food and medication.
The agency also needs donations of heat lamps, cinder blocks, plywood, and 75- to 100-watt light bulbs for temporary land shelters.
Although Channer said dozens of people have called offering to adopt the turtles since they were discovered Friday, the agency will not release them until the investigation is complete, which could occur within the next week.
"The turtles are evidence," she said. "We really want to file charges on it, so we're trying to do this by the book."
If filed, the charges could include cruelty to animals or illegal transportation of live animals.
Channer said the prime suspect is the owner of the vehicle, identified by police as Mark Osterholt, who was found with the van Friday.
He said the reptiles were awaiting delivery by another vehicle to Santa Barbara, where they would have been eaten.
The turtles, Osterholt said, had been sitting in the van for about eight hours.
The van's odor prompted neighbors to alert police and SPCA investigators, who speculated that the reptiles had actually been in the van for days.
Some of them had already perished.
To contribute aid to the turtles, call (213) 730-5300.