Remaining reptiles in Hamblin case euthanized for parasite

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By Beth Braden

KNOXVILLE—The remaining 14 venomous reptiles removed from the Tabernacle Church of God have been euthanized according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

The reptiles were reportedly suffering from a contagious parasite that had already killed more than half of the 53 snakes removed during a raid on Nov. 7, 2013.

The church’s pastor, Andrew Hamblin, was subsequently charged with possession of Class I Wildlife, though his charges were dismissed by Campbell County’s grand jury on Jan 8.

The snakes were being housed at the Knoxville Zoo as evidence during the legal proceedings. The parasite reportedly make it impossible to house the snakes at a wildlife sanctuary or release them back into the wild. The reptiles were examined by three different veterinary and zoology professionals before the decision to euthanize them was final.

 "Unfortunately, most of the snakes were emaciated and several had severe skin and respiratory infections.  In addition, many of the snakes were very sick with a variety of parasites, and some of the parasites are untreatable," said Dr. Ed Ramsay, professor of zoological medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, in a press release from the TWRA.

On Monday morning, Hamblin said his church is focusing on new ministry ventures and is ready to move past the legal turmoil.

“The ordeal is over and that’s where it needs to stay. I figured the snakes would be euthanized,” He said Monday morning. “They’re [TWRA] still doing heir job just like I’m still doing my job as a pastor and we’re focusing on reaching out to the community.”

See more details in this week's
LaFollette Press.