Investigation update and victory: Mitch Behm, owner of Global Captive Breeders, LLC (GCB), and David Delgado, GCB’s former manager, have pleaded guilty to numerous misdemeanor or felony counts of cruelty to animals, respectively, for their roles in the suffering and deaths of more than 16,000 animals. Behm and Degaldo have both been barred from acquiring animals, and Delgado was sentenced to 180 days in the sheriff’s custody. Read more here.
Pet stores want you to think about how cute the animals in the cages are—they don’t want you to know that for every cute animal on display, there are often thousands suffering and dying horribly behind the scenes in the pet trade.
For more than two months in late 2012, a PETA investigator worked undercover at Global Captive Breeders, a company that bred and sold reptiles and rats in Lake Elsinore, California. PETA’s investigator documented that some of the company’s workers, including its manager—and generally with the full knowledge of its owner, Mitch Behm—neglected thousands of animals, many of them to the point of death, and cruelly killed countless more.
Based on PETA’s evidence, law-enforcement officials entered GCB on December 12 and mounted the largest rescue of neglected rats in U.S. history and the largest seizure of animals ever in California. All the animals—more than 600 reptiles and 18,000 rats—were relinquished by Behm into the city’s custody, and a criminal investigation is underway.
The facility, which reeked of death, decay, and ammonia from accumulated urine and feces, typically housed up thousands of adult rats and hundreds of reptiles, including snakes, monitor lizards, skinks, tokay geckos, and sulcata tortoises, with just two full-time staffers and one part-time helper as mid-December.
Rats: Born to Die
Most of the thousands of rats who were kept at GCB were what the pet-trade industry refers to as “feeder” animals―bred and sold to be fed to snakes and other captive carnivorous reptiles kept as “pets.” Because of the facility’s chronic failure to provide animals with even their most basic requirements, the rats were not only doomed to die terrifying, painful deaths inside GCB’s walls but also born into and kept in filth and misery throughout their entire lives.
This rat’s bloody eye deteriorated over the course of eight days, until a worker finally slammed her into a metal rack. She had a violent seizure then was thrown into the trash.
Rats—including those weakened by illness and suffering from injuries—were routinely grabbed by the tail and slammed into metal posts, racks, tables, and walls when workers (including the facility’s manager) decided to kill them. Many didn’t die quickly―and were thrown into trash bins or into a reptile’s cage while still alive and convulsing.
Some rats, including newborns, were frozen alive. Loose rats were shot with a BB gun, one rat was stomped on and maimed then whipped against a metal rack and finally killed, and several rats were bludgeoned with metal tongs and the handle of a BB gun.
Tubs used for housing flooded frequently, drowning countless rats and leaving hundreds of others to struggle to keep their heads above the water as it rose. Exhausted, shivering, and terrified, many mother rats watched helplessly as their newborns drowned.
Snakes, skinks, monitor lizards, and other reptiles at GCB were essentially left to die; they were so neglected that in many cases, even their deaths went unnoticed by management for days
The facility was full of snakes, such as this one, who struggled to breathe. PETA’s investigator never saw GCB bring a veterinarian in to see even a single animal.
Behm repeatedly told workers not to care for the facility’s reptiles because his revenue was coming from the rat-breeding operation and there was “no reason to spend time up front” (where the reptiles were housed) when the reptiles weren’t generating any revenue.
Dozens of reptiles packed up for sale at a trade show were crammed into plastic deli cups and denied food, water, and other basic needs for at least a week.
Chronic deprivation was normal at GCB—reptiles often languished for weeks before finally dying, hopeless, isolated, and robbed of all that was essential to them.
Im so angery,hurt, upset… idk how to feel other then sickened by these horrible bastard people who could do things like that to animals… regardless of the type of animal no animal should be treated like that. they all have living breathing organs just like human beings… those people who did this and let it go on, should be put to the death penalty….. wtf sick bastards
This sickens me. Rats are such social loving animals! No animal deserves such treatment. The poor snakes involved in this, how their life would differ if they were allowed to live in nature where they belong.
What kind of sickos are on this earth?! It’s heartbreaking! Throwing a poor little rat up against a cage wall, and DROWNING them?! Then starving snakes? SICK!!! I hope they all go to prison & suffer as much as these animals did.
I am absolutely sickened and saddened by what I’ve seen here. These animals literally suffered and lived in pure hell. These individuals have no heart or soul and are living proof that Satan walks in various forms. How anyone can live with themselves after allowing these poor defenseless creatures to suffer and die so senselessly and painfully is unimaginable. May God have mercy on their souls.