Investigation Reveals Hell on Earth for Animals

Posted on by Ashley Fruno

Rats killed by GCB's manager

GCB's manager killed these rats and many others. He laughed as he grabbed these rats by the tail and slammed them against a hard plastic tub.

For more than two months in late 2012, a PETA U.S. investigator worked undercover at Global Captive Breeders LLC (GCB), a company that bred and sold reptiles in California. The 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 death, and cruelly killed countless more.

Based on evidence from this investigation, law-enforcement officials entered GCB on December 12 and carried out the largest rescue of neglected rats in U.S. history. All the animals—more than 600 reptiles and 18,000 rats—were relinquished by the owner into the city’s custody, and a criminal investigation is underway.

Most of the thousands of rats kept at GCB were bred and sold to be fed to snakes and other captive carnivorous reptiles kept as “pets.” Because the facility failed to provide the animals with even the most minimal basic requirements, the rats were doomed to die terrifying, painful deaths as well as live in filth and misery.

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. 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 water as the water 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, leaving enclosures and rotting carcasses teeming with maggots. Some of them captured in the wild and stolen from their native homes, reptiles at GCB didn’t stand much of a chance of survival.

Behm repeatedly told workers not to care for the facility’s reptiles, as there was “no reason to spend time up front” (where the reptiles were housed) when the reptiles weren’t generating any revenue. Many reptiles were kept shelved in lightless, opaque drawers so small that they could not move, eat, or eliminate normally and were trapped amid their own waste. Some were confined without access to water. Dozens of reptiles packed up for sale at a trade show were crammed into plastic deli cups and denied food, water, and other essentials.

The cruelty documented at GCB is typical of the filth, crowding, deprivation, and stress that PETA and our affiliates have found in investigations of “pet” trade suppliers around the world and have documented over and over again. You can help reptiles, rats, mice, and other animals exploited by this ruthless, greed-driven business of misery by vowing never to patronize stores that sell live animals. Share this investigation with your friends and family now.

Posted by Edwina Baier