Photos, Video: Two Nice Guys Release A Turtle At Echo Park Lake
Meet two Good Samaritans, who bought a small turtle from someone who was selling them at their local park, then set it free at Echo Park Lake.
Two of my friends, Ernand Dabuet and his partner, Jason Billick, were walking their dogs in Plummer Park in West Hollywood Sunday evening, when they encountered a guy who asked them to buy a turtle.
"He claimed he'd sold several [turtles] in the past few days," Dabuet told me. "He also claimed the turtle was only a year old. But, we suspected the turtle was older. We gave him money in exchange for his freedom. We were afraid he would abandon the reptile some place in the park."
Dabuet and Billick decided to drive the turtle all the way to Echo Park and release it there.
They took some photos and a video of Billick releasing the turtle. Their dogs, two piebald dachshunds named Jasper and Jonah, went along for the ride. Jonah can be heard crying on the video as the turtle is released. "Jonah was very interested. He wasn't sure what to make of it. Jasper, wasn't interested at all," he said.
"It was a nice deed and it felt good to see it swim away in a safe environment," he said in his Facebook post.
It's not the first time these two have come to the aid of animals in the neighborhood: I was there when Billick ran after a loose Great Dane who had run into the street, after handing off his own dogs to a friend. He lost his keys in the chase but he never gave it a second thought. He also helped when a woman's dog was hit by a car. He helped her carry it to the vet, where, sadly, it died. A shook-up Dabuet posted that story to Facebook too.
He gave me his blessing to share the turtle story, saying he hope it inspires others to do the same.
UPDATE: While these two were obviously trying to do a good deed and their heart was in the right place, an official from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife discourages the public from releasing animals of any kind into the wild.
Andrew Hughan, Information Officer for the CDFW told me over the phone, "One turtle's not going to do any harm. We're not going to issue a citation for that. But if you have a pet that you don't want, especially if it's kind of exotic, call your local Fish and Wildlife office and ask for advice.
"Non-native species have the potential to do tremendous harm to the environment. This happens a lot in Lake Tahoe where people were releasing goldfish, which are a non-native species. They got huge and started eating food they shouldn't be eating.
"Never release an animal into a California stream or pond without checking with someone," he said.