Couple Arrested After Poisonous Snakes Taken From Home

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A couple was arrested, accused of selling snakes-- some of them poisonous-- out of their apartment in Struthers, according to officials.

"And that cobra, there's another cobra, a rattlesnake; I think a corral snake," said Dave Nelson, Mahoning County Dog Warden.

More than 100 snakes and lizards were confiscated from the house on 5th street in Struthers, Friday evening.

Joseph McCollum, 46, and Michelle Barrett, 45, were arrested for violating city and state laws that pertain to the possession and sale of exotic animals from their apartment.

"This guy is a very knowledgeable guy. Whoever lives there, as far as that; he's very knowledgeable, but you gotta understand that when you are in the city like that you gotta go by their rules first," said Nelson.

Police said they found several containers of snakes that were stored in a 12-year-old's room so the couple could be in more trouble. "They will be facing child endangering as well."

Neighbors said they knew snakes were being sold out of the home but they didn’t know some of the snakes were poisonous.

"A little scary, ya know? Why would they have those kinds of snakes?" said Tina Shargo of Struthers.

"That many snakes, kind a crazy. I'm surprised nothing has happened or got out," said Jared Miullins of Struthers.

The snakes and lizards were rescued by Keith Gisser of "Herps, Alive!", a reptile rescue group in Cleveland Heights. He's nursing the reptiles back to health.

"The four snakes in particular that we have actually in isolation in another room because they are that sick. Four are pretty bad; three of them have infections in their mouth that are so bad that they aren't actually able to eat until we get their mouths cleaned up and that's something that beyond specific ability to do here, so we are calling our vet to do that for us," Gisser said.

Right now none of the reptiles that were seized are available for adoption because they are still evidence in a criminal case.

The couple pleaded not guilty to the unlawful selling of animals. Bond was set at $6,000 each and they are due back in court Friday.

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