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Rodent & Reptile Neglect: 2 Face Animal Cruelty Charges at Calif. Breeder (Global Captive Breeders)

Posted by Sonja K. at 7/23/2013 7:52:45 AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rescue crews went into a warehouse last year to save nearly 20,000 rats and reptiles at a wholesale distributor of exotic snakes and rodents, encountering a sight so revolting that they needed crisis counselors to cope.

Many of the animal control workers came out gasping for air and sickened by the heinous sights and smells, including a mixture of death, disease, decay and ammonia from accumulated urine and feces in rat bins. Officials with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called it the largest-ever seizure of animals in California.

The owner and manager of the business have now been arrested and charged with more than 100 counts each of felony animal cruelty for the way they treated the rats and reptiles. Their company, Global Captive Breeders, raised rats and snakes that were sold at pet stores and swap meets.

The Riverside County district attorney filed the case Friday and a judge issued warrants for owner Mitchell Steven Behm, 54, and company manager David Delgado, also known as Jose Magana, 29. A message left for Behm's attorney was not immediately returned, and a lawyer for Delgado could not be located.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals initiated the investigation after sending an undercover operative to work at the breeding facility in Lake Elsinore, 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Some of the animals were already dead by the time rescue workers got there. The ones still living were too sick to treat and too toxic to move, and had to be euthanized.

The toll the operation took on workers ranged from physical to emotional, said Capt. Cindy Machado, who headed up a team of workers from the Marin Humane Society in Novato and coordinated veterinarians who came from all over the country for the weeklong December operation.

People were throwing up because of the ammonia fumes and "there were times you had to run outside just to catch a breath of fresh air," she said.

People emotionally broke down and had to be excused. Several people ended up with colds and sore throats. "I lost my voice," she said.

"I had some idea what to expect but little could have prepared me for the overwhelming stench of death and decay you could smell from the outside of the facility. On the inside it was overpowering," said Daphna Nachminovitch, senior vice president of cruelty investigations for PETA.

There were 18,400 feeder rats and over 600 snakes, black tree monitors, tokay geckos and sulcata tortoises, Nachminovitch said.

Most of the rats were without food in overcrowded bins and because of a faulty water system, were either drowning or dying of thirst. "Some were literally eating each other alive," she said.

Mitch Behm got a conditional use permit for the business in 2009, said Justin Carlson, a spokesman for Lake Elsinore. The city received one anonymous complaint about the business before PETA stepped in, Carlson said. The company's website listed corporate offices in Rancho Santa Margarita.

A whistleblower contacted PETA and the animal welfare agency sent an undercover investigator to get a job at the business. The investigator documented rats being grabbed by their tails and slammed against poles, stomped on, shot with a BB gun, frozen alive and drowned.

The undercover worker was there for two months, and Nachminovitch said that period of time was needed to document enough photo and video evidence to obtain a search warrant. In addition, the neglect was so far advanced by the time the whistleblower called that it would have been impossible to save the animals.

The 6,100-square-foot warehouse had separate entrances to the reptile and rat rooms, but the snakes didn't fare any better than the rats, Nachminovitch said. Some of the boas and pythons were 15-feet long.

The animals were euthanized in the warehouse and taken to a rendering plant, she said.

Every rescue worker sets out to save animals, Machado said. But there is also satisfaction in giving an animal in pain a humane, peaceful passing, she said.

"I have been with PETA for 15 years and there was an unprecedented amount of active suffering while we were standing there. I am grateful we could end it," Nachminovitch said.

original article

 Comments: View Oldest First  

Lauren ,
Posted At: 7/23/2013 8:24:17 AM  

Okay, Jesus christ. I have so many comments on this it is making my head spin.

#1.... since puddinging WHEN are PETA "bystanders" called officials? Official WHATS? Official busybodies? Official PITAS? Maybe they should change that acronym come to think....but the fact that it is becoming so acceptable in some places for people to include PETA members in stuff like this makes me want to throw up. I was at a vet the other day and in the brochure, the vet bragged that their office manager was a member of PETA and HSUS... wtf is wrong with people that they can't see what these people are really about?!

#2... they euthanized ALL the reptiles?! You're telling me that NONE of those reptiles had even a passing chance at surviving?! I have seen some bad pudding and read about more.... and I have personally seen reptiles from horrific circumstances come back and do just fine. I have personally OWNED reptiles that were horribly treated and kept, abused... and once rehabbed went on to live happy, healthy lives... but they euthanized ALL of them?!

#3... and relating to #2... this is where PETA shows its hand... they don't WANT to adopt these animals out. They don't WANT to give them a puddinging chance. They WANT them dead. Period. It is disgusting... disgusting that they feel that way, yes, but more disgusting that the official animal protection agency for this town, paid for by tax payers, went along with this puddinging pudding.

#4... cervical dislocation (holding rats by the tail and slamming them) is, from what I have heard and seen, an acceptable way to euthanize a rat, and is done in labs and pet stores, along with zoos and breeders... the other stuff may be a little questionable (especially freezing alive) but cervical dislocation is common place... if I were a big breeder, I would be totally freaked out to hire anyone these days....

It is disgusting and appalling that anyone would keep animals this way... but the worst parts of this article are between the lines.

Posted At: 7/23/2013 8:41:56 AM  

Yup PETA doesn't do sqaut for the animals they "save" if you look it up they put down almost all of the animals they get, plus they're pretty racist, fat shaming/body shaming, ect. there's plently of material out there documenting the horrible seedy crap they've done. I feel horrible for the animals though they went through hell without even getting a second chance. 

Lauren ,
Posted At: 7/23/2013 8:51:35 AM  

Clarification Hyp, cervical dislocation is acceptable in rats only under 300 grams and definitely NOT acceptable to slam them against anything. You hold them a certain way and pull. Those are laboratory laws. 

Anyways... Disgusting that they felt satisfaction at euthanizing all the animals and not working to save any. Even more disgusting ere that they were abused and neglected in the first place...

Aimee ,
Posted At: 7/23/2013 12:43:31 PM  

^this. I don't care how many breeders slam rats against a counter to kill them, it is not humane.

cervical dislocation is great, if you do it right; it's torture if you don't.

Shawn Berg,
Posted At: 7/23/2013 3:37:47 PM  

I hate cruel people. And PETA.

George H. Wessel VII,
Posted At: 7/23/2013 6:30:12 PM  

This is disgusting.

Vera Voodoo,
Posted At: 7/23/2013 6:43:15 PM  
This is so disgusting, what the hell!? Everything I felt while reading this has been addressed, so that's all I will say. >:(

Sarah Auzina,
Posted At: 7/24/2013 9:28:23 AM  

Disgusted on so many levels. Ugh.

George H. Wessel VII,
Posted At: 7/24/2013 6:31:25 PM  

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