Dear Ms. Romero,
In light of a recent whistleblower report about unlicensed exhibitor Lance Ramos whipping and jabbing tigers during a training session for the Hawthorn Corporation, Hawthorn’s failure to provide veterinary care to tigers suffering from open, bleeding wounds and failure to clean tigers' urine-soaked enclosures, among many other apparent violations of federal law, I strongly urge you to ensure that the USDA permanently revokes Hawthorn's exhibitor license and seeks criminal charges against Ramos and Hawthorn owner John Cuneo. Hawthorn is a notorious animal abuser and serial Animal Welfare Act violator. For more than two decades, Hawthorn has been blatantly disregarding both animal welfare and the law, clearly undeterred by more than 100 USDA citations, two license suspensions, more than a quarter of a million dollars in fines, and confiscation or relinquishment of at least 17 exotic animals.
Ramos, a serial animal abuser whose license was revoked in 2009 for numerous serious AWA violations—including using physical abuse to train exotic cats to the point that at least one lion died—also remains clearly undeterred by the USDA's enforcement actions against him since, according to the whistleblower’s testimony, he continues to exhibit and severely abuse and neglect tigers.
Clearly, the numerous enforcement actions that the USDA has taken against Hawthorn and Ramos have done nothing to stop their flagrant disregard of animal welfare and the law. To ensure the humane care and treatment of animals—the purpose of the AWA—it is critical that the USDA revokes Hawthorn’s license and seeks criminal charges against both Cuneo and Ramos.