BLACK CANYON CITY, Ariz. — Local exterminator Topher Arnold was arrested Tuesday on multiple counts of animal cruelty and attempted ratslaughter in the first degree.
It all started when Steven and Lesley Greenbaum identified a huge family of rats in a neighboring trailer and called Arnold for a consultation. Arnold offered to “check out the situation.”
Unbeknownst to Arnold, the Greenbaums were decoys—officials from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) disguised as regular people.
When Arnold arrived at the site, his truck was swarmed by a film crew and ten PETA officials armed with automatic weaponry.
Arnold stated, “They threatened to shoot me if I stepped near the trailer.”
PETA took control of the vermin-infested trailer after Jeffrey Wendorff—who owned the mobile home and used the space to breed rats—was taken into custody on suspicion of cruel mistreatment of animals. Authorities reported finding between 300 to 500 rats in pens located at the front and back ends of the trailer, as well as various aquariums housing newborn and adult rats.
The temperature inside the trailer was above 100 degrees, and as many as 25 percent of the animals were assumed dead. Authorities described the odor inside and around the trailer as “overwhelming.”
Since Wendorff’s arrest, PETA has used the trailer as a means to lure exterminators and prosecute them. Arnold was the only one to respond to their calls, which makes him the most reliable, if least animal-friendly, exterminator in the area.
In addition to rats, Arnold’s alleged victims include mice, cockroaches, stinkbugs, weevils, and at least one syphilitic horse.
The families of the deceased declined to comment.