Charges have been filed against a Thousand Oaks man about 10 months after dozens of venomous snakes and other exotic animals were seized from his properties, authorities announced Monday.
Todd Kates, 56, was charged Friday with 14 felony counts of animal cruelty and 26 misdemeanor Fish and Game Code and California Code of Regulations counts related to the care and housing of animals, according to a news release from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.
On July 6, 2017, authorities served search warrants at two Thousand Oaks-area properties — one in the 1300 block of Rancho Lane, the other in the 800 block of Carlisle Road — and uncovered approximately 100 snakes, officials said at the time. The species included monocled and spitting cobras, along with rattlesnakes.
Eight American alligators were also confiscated.
Many of the animals were found to be in poor health and living amid unsanitary conditions, according to the DA’s news release.
Kates is also accused of not having the proper permits for the reptiles, a number of which were apparently living at his home.
“The resident here had permits for a number of venomous species that are supposed to be housed at another secure location, where they would be allowed to be kept,” Marcia Mayeda of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control explained after the man was taken into custody last July.
In a statement Monday, Animal Care and Control officials identified Kates as the owner of the cobras and other venomous snakes confiscated from the residential property.
Some of the snakes were described as “highly venomous,” and as such “posed a substantial risk to public safety,” authorities previously stated.
Eight weeks prior to his arrest, a motorist struck a venomous cobra on the road. The incident prompted the investigation that culminated in the arrest of Kates last summer.
It wasn’t the first in the area to involve that type of species in the area, however. About three years before that, a venomous white cobra was captured after it bit a dog and was on the loose in the neighborhood for several days, terrifying local residents.
The second snake had escaped from one of the properties where the search warrant had been executed last July.
In addition to Animal Care and Control, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office also investigated the case.
If convicted as charged, Kates faces a maximum sentence of 11 years and 8 months in jail, prosecutors said.