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Group Warned Portrait Simple About the Dangers of Using Live Animals as Props Just Weeks Ago
For Immediate Release:April 2, 2010
Contact: Lisa Wathne 757-622-7382
Providence, R.I. -- Today, PETA sent an urgent letter to Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, Eastern regional director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) animal care unit, asking the agency to investigate photo studio Portrait Simple and, if appropriate, review its exhibitor's license in light of an incident in which four rabbits the studio had been using as props drowned in floodwaters at the Warwick Mall. The animals were left in a cage on a shelf in the studio instead of being evacuated during the flood.
Just over two weeks ago, after receiving complaints from concerned mall patrons, PETA warned Portrait Simple Director of Store Operations Rick Banks about the hazards associated with using live animals as props. PETA pointed out that rabbits frighten easily, can become scared or resentful, can bite and scratch children, and are easily injured when they're mishandled, but Banks adamantly refused to change the studio's policy.
"It is inexcusable that these animals were left to drown slowly as floodwaters rose instead of being easily evacuated," says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. "Portrait Simple put profits ahead of animal welfare, and these poor rabbits paid with their lives."
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA's letter to the USDA follows.
April 2, 2010
Dr. Elizabeth GoldentyerDirectorEastern RegionUSDA, APHIS, Animal Care
Dear Dr. Goldentyer:
Please consider this letter an official request for the USDA to investigate the death of four rabbits at Portrait Simple, USDA license #14-C-0105, site 004, the Warwick Mall in Warwick, Rhode Island, and pursue revocation of the facility's exhibitor license.
According to a media report, on Tuesday, March 30, the mall was evacuated because of flooding caused by heavy rains. Four rabbits at the Portrait Simple studio were apparently left behind on a shelf, and when employees returned on April 1, it was discovered that the rabbits' cage had fallen off the shelf and that all the rabbits had drowned.
These conditions would appear to violate multiple regulations and standards of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including the following:
* Subpart C, Sec. 3.50 (a): "Structural strength: Indoor and outdoor housing facilities for rabbits shall be structurally sound and shall be maintained in good repair, to protect the animals from injury ... ."* Subpart C, Sec. 3.53 (a)(1): "Primary enclosures shall be structurally sound and maintained in good repair to protect the rabbits from injury ... ." * Subpart C, Sec. 3.53 (a)(2): "Primary enclosures shall be constructed and maintained so as to enable the rabbits to remain dry and clean."* Subpart I, Sec. 2.131 (b)(1): "Handling of all animals shall be done as expeditiously and carefully as possible in a manner that does not cause trauma, overheating, excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort."
Staff could have easily taken the four rabbits with them when they evacuated the studio. The irresponsible decision to leave the rabbits behind resulted in what was surely a terrifying situation and a miserable death for the animals and justifies revocation of Portrait Simple's exhibitor license.
Thank you for your time. Please advise us of the USDA's actions in this matter.
Sincerely,Gemma Vaughan, MSWAnimals in Entertainment Specialist
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