ARLINGTON - A judge has ruled animals at U.S. Global Exotics were treated cruelly and stripped all ownership of the animals from the owners, reported Mike Bass, the assistant director of Code Compliance and Animal Services in Arlington.
The city of Arlington now has custody of the more than 27,000 exotic animals seized from the wholesale business on December 15.
Municipal judge Michael Smith ruled Tuesday that U.S. Global Exotics "cruelly treated" the animals by confining them for extended periods of time without necessary food, water and veterinary care.
The SPCA and other volunteers are now caring for the animals at an undisclosed location. An SPCA official says it costs several thousand dollars daily to care for the animals, which includes turtles, snakes, lizards and many species of mammals.
Authorities raided the north Arlington business based on an undercover investigation by PETA. The city said it confiscated nearly 26,900 live animals such as lizards, snakes, fish, hamsters and frogs, but it also took out 603 dead animals.
About 4,000 animals have died since being removed. The SPCA blames existing health conditions and said the death rate has slowed greatly in recent days.
U.S. Global Exotics sold the animals over the Internet to buyers around the world.
WFAA-TV's Brad Watson contributed to this report