OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- It was the last thing Chanelle Wright expected to see when she gazed upward in her front lawn Wednesday morning.
But sure enough, there was a little box turtle stuck in a tree and hanging from green and red balloons, struggling to get free.
Wright knew she had to get the turtle down from there.
"He was just swinging his arms trying to get out of it,” Wright said. “Somebody had taped him to the balloons."
Wright got on her cell phone and called the Humane Society and fire department, but it took an hour for authorities to arrive on scene. In the meantime, the turtle hung dangling in the wind.
That’s when Joel Rabagos' mother got out her camera and started taking video of the turtle.
"When something like this happens, she always takes the video camera no matter what it is," Rabago said.
The fire department eventually rolled up with a big ladder truck, but as they were about to rescue the turtle, a gust of wind blew him down to earth. At that point, a Humane Society employee was able to cut the turtle free from the balloons.
Fortunately, the turtle wasn't physically hurt. But both Wright and Rabagos are outraged that anyone could treat an animal like this.
"What were you thinking?” Rabagos asked. “I mean, a turtle is still living thing. There's no reason to be putting him up in a balloon and sending him off.”
"It's animal abuse,” Wright echoed. “If you didn't want the turtle, give it away, take it to a pet store."
A picture of the turtle is now being held at the Oceanside humane society while an investigation is conducted. If no one claims it, Wright says she and her family are ready to give it a new, loving home.
If detectives can find out who taped the turtle to the balloons, they could face charges of animal abuse.