Officials seize dozens of reptiles, arrest owner in Thousand Oaks

THOUSAND OAKS (KABC) -- Authorities seized dozens of venomous reptiles and arrested their owner Thursday after he failed to comply with the proper regulations.

Investigators charged Todd Kates, 55, with cruelty to animals. They said he kept permits for some of the reptiles.

Officials said the owner kept at least 80 other venomous snakes in his collection, along with tortoises, exotic birds and eight American alligators. The Ventura County Sheriff's Office, The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, The Los Angeles Zoo and animal control from two counties all took part in the seizures. Authorities also warned that a red-bellied black snake may have escaped from the owner's home.

Some neighbors reportedly flew drones over the backyard of the house on the 1300 block of Ranch Road for a better view. Many are relieved officials took the animals away.

"You've got dirt, grass and a lot of places for snakes and animals to hide. It's a great community but keep your snakes to yourself," said neighbor John Davidson

Last month, a neighbor ran over an exotic snake. Three years ago, a white cobra was captured after a face off with a dog. Kates denied ownership of the prized serpent after the incident.

"There are a lot kids on this block definitely, so you want to be careful," said neighbor Theresa Quillico
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