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Seizure of animal dealer's 18,000 rodents called U.S. record

A severely dehydrated rat found in a tub at the Lake Elsinore business

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has released a graphic video showing conditions at a Riverside County animal dealer, prompting officials to embark on what they described as the largest rodent seizure in U.S. history.

Animal control officials have euthanized the entire inventory of an animal dealer, including more than 600 reptiles and 18,000 rodents.

Authorities raided Global Captive Breeders after receiving information from a two-month undercover operation at the facility conducted by PETA.

VIDEO: Undercover investigation of animal abuse

The flooded warehouse where rats were stored.“It was the largest rodent seizure in the United States," said Willa Bagwell, executive director of Animal Friends of the Valley, a private nonprofit agency contracted to provide animal control services to Lake Elsinore and other southwestern Riverside County cities.

The snakes were so emaciated that their ribs bulged out. Freezers filled with dead rats were also found.

“It was horrible. It was horrendous,’’ Bagwell said. “There were dead animals. They were in filth. The suffering that was going on in that building was horrible.’’

Veterinarians and animal control officers have been at the facility for the last week assessing the health of the reptiles and rodents, and documenting the alleged abuse, she said. The animals were in such poor condition, and the conditions so “toxic,” that the veterinarians decided to euthanize all the creatures found at the facility.

Bagwell said the case is being investigated by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and district attorney’s office.

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-- Phil Willon in Riverside

Photos: A severely dehydrated rat found in a tub at the Lake Elsinore business, and the flooded warehouse where rats were stored. Source: PETA

 
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