An elementary school teacher pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal abuse today for the hoarding and improper housing of more than 400 snakes at his Santa Ana home.
William Frederick Buchman, 53, Santa Ana, was then sentenced to three years probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
That's not all: Buchman is required to undergo a 16-week animal neglect prevention program; cannot own, possess, care for or live with any animal for five years; must pay $17,000 in restitution for veterinary treatment and animal care; and must donate $25,000 worth of reptile cages from his collection to a snake rescue organization.
Neighborhood complaints about the stench coming from Buchman's home in the 2900 block of North Fernwood Drive sent Santa Ana police officers there the morning of Jan. 29 to serve a search warrant. They discovered the 400 snakes–some alive, some dead, some decaying–as well as the rats, mice and pieces of rodents the pythons fed on.
Haz-mat crews, in full protective uniforms and gas masks, spent hours that day removing the pythons. About 240 were dead. Buchman was originally accused of improperly caring for 182 snakes, which were still alive but malnourished, dehydrated, and covered with mites and/or maggots. Of those, 20 died shortly after being impounded. The remaining 162 were taken by rescue groups throughout Southern California.
Buchman pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of animal abuse by a caretaker.