Oxnard resident charged with animal cruelty after police find four foot crocodile in a ‘rancid’ water filled tank

Image provided by the Oxnard Police Department

Image provided by the Oxnard Police Department

By Rachel Franklin

Police detained an Oxnard resident on March 2, finding a four-foot crocodile and narcotics at his home located in the 2500 block of Peninsula Road.

44-year-old Donny Askar was arrested on felony charges of possession for sale of a controlled substance, possession of methamphetamine for sale, animal abuse as well as a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of prohibited species, according to the Oxnard Police Department’s booking logs and news release.

Askar was on active probation. Soon after police detained Askar away from his home, they visited his residence to conduct a probation search. Oxnard Police Department’s Sergeant Brandon Ordelheide, who supervises the narcotics unit responsible for conducting the investigation into Askar, described the crocodile’s living conditions.

“During the course of the search, we found a tank that looked like something may have been in, but, it was an old tank; it didn’t look like it was being used,” said Ordelheide. “One of the officers was moving the couch to see if there was anything under the couch and they bumped that tank. And when they bumped that tank, under that rancid water, all of a sudden the eyeballs and the snout of that crocodile came up out of this tank that we thought nothing was in.”

According to the news release, the crocodile’s tank was secured poorly.

Askar lived at a waterfront residence, which could have led to the crocodile escaping into the Channel Islands Harbor.

“We were concerned that if the thing gets out and moves into the ocean, whether it can survive or not,” said Ordelheide. “It could obviously do some sort of damage to either kids or other animals in the neighborhood. From the back of the house down to the water, he probably only had to go 25 feet. I think if it wanted to get out it could have.”

According to Ordelheide, Askar had the crocodile for approximately six to seven years and the animal’s name was Hitler.

Oxnard Police take a picture of the crocodile found at Donny Askar's residence.
Oxnard Police take a picture of the crocodile found at Donny Askar's residence. Photo credit: Oxnard Police Department

Authorities originally thought the animal was an alligator, but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife later determined it to be a crocodile.

“From what we had gathered, (Askar) was feeding it fish from out of the harbor,” said Ordelheide. “I guess it was part of its’ diet.”

Wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to the residence to transport the crocodile to a safe and secure location, according to the news release.

Although he could not disclose the crocodile’s exact current location, Captain Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division assured the crocodile is in a permanent facility that has the capacity to provide safe and proper care to the animal.

“California has some of the most aggressive restricted species laws in the county and for good reason, because too many people think they have the experience or the knowledge to provide care for an exotic animal,” said Foy. “The fact of the matter is general members of the public don’t have any experience at all and have no business possessing exotic animals because they don’t care for them properly.”

Police also found heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine at Askar’s residence.

The Oxnard Police Department urges anyone with information regarding this case or other criminal activity to contact them at (805) 385-7600 or online. Anonymous tips can be left online for the Ventura County Crime Stoppers or by calling (800) 222-8477.