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Rodent and reptile breeders charged with hundreds of counts of cruelty

July 23, 2013 at 7:55 AM

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif., July 23 (UPI) -- Two Californians face cruelty charges for conditions so bad in a breeding facility that thousands of rodents and reptiles had to be euthanized, authorities say.

Authorities said Mitchell Steven Behm, 54, and David Delgado, 29, were each charged with 106 counts of animal cruelty after a two-month sting by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals revealed the conditions at Global Captive Breeders in Lake Elsinore, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Prosecutors said a PETA member worked at the facility for two months, witnessed the conditions and notified authorities. The facility was raided in December.

Investigators said snakes were so emaciated their ribs bulged, and tubs and freezers inside the breeding facility were loaded with carcasses, the Times said.

In a statement after the facility was raided, PETA said workers fired at animals with BB guns, froze some alive and beat animals they wanted to kill.

Conditions were such that animals found alive had to be euthanized, officials said. More than 15,000 rodents and 500 reptiles were found dead or had to be euthanized.

Behm, owner of Global Captive Breeders, was arrested Friday and freed on bail Saturday, the Times said.

Delgado, who was a manager at the facility, was arrested Friday and was in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail pending arraignment.

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