SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An alligator and three turtles are now headed to a safe place thanks to an “amnesty day” event held by the Suffolk County SPCA.

The amnesty initiative was aimed at getting illegal reptiles and amphibians into a controlled environment where they can be cared for properly.

Over the last several years numerous alligators have been found in Long Island waterways.

SPCA Chief Roy Gross said the alligators were illegally released by owners who did not have the ability to care for the growing animals.

“They get them as little hatchlings or a couple of months old, and they say these are cute little things to have,” said Gross. “And then they get big and then they don’t have the proper environment to keep them in. They get hard to handle and they end up dumping them.”

Gross said the animals cannot survive Long Island winters.

“Releasing one of these reptiles out in the wild this time of year certainly would be a death sentence for these reptiles. It certainly would not last through the winter,” he said.

On Sunday, a 3-foot-long American alligator was turned in, along with three red air eared turtles. The turtles, though not illegal, are not native to New York State.

“I’m glad this person did turn in this alligator that was just 3-feet-long. And my advice is stick to your furry animals. I can’t imagine anybody sitting on their couch, curled up with an alligator on their lap watching TV,” Gross said.

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