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Carson & Barnes Lies About Penalty, Animal Welfare Violations on Its Website
For Immediate Release:November 7, 2012
Contact:Shakira Croce 202-483-7382
Hugo, Ok. -- Today, PETA sent a letter to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's (USDA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) regarding the
shockingly low $3,714 penalty that the agency recently issued to Carson &
Barnes Circus to settle 10 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
In its letter, PETA points out that this fine—which is $96,286 less than the
maximum penalty of $100,000—will have no financial impact on a business that
took in $6.7 million in sales in 2011 and urges the OIG to investigate the USDA
penalty scheme that OIG has criticized for more than two decades and take
whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the AWA is effectively enforced.
"The USDA's current penalty scheme is so ineffective
that circuses view these tiny fines—such as the $400 Carson & Barnes paid
after its animal-care director was caught on tape beating, whipping, and
shocking elephants—as no more than a cost of doing business," says PETA
Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders.
"PETA is calling on the USDA to fully enforce the AWA and no longer allow
circuses like Carson & Barnes to go on abusing elephants with barely a slap
on the wrist."
PETA's letter to the OIG points to other signs of Carson
& Barnes' disregard for the law, including the false claim on its website
that the circus has had 12 AWA violations between 2003 and 2010—when, in
reality, it has had 18—and its claim that "no further action" was
taken regarding three of the AWA violations that were, in reality, the reasons
for the circus's recent fine. PETA has contacted Carson & Barnes separately
to demand that the circus remove these false claims from its website.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA's letter to the USDA Office of Inspector General
November 7, 2012
Phyllis K. FongInspector GeneralU.S. Department of
Agriculture Rm. 117-W Jamie Whitten Bldg.1400 Independence Ave. S.W.Washington, DC 20250
Re: USDA's failure to implement OIG's stipulated penalty
recommendations; recent Carson & Barnes (No. 73-C-0001) penalty
Dear Ms. Fong:
am counsel to PETA, and I am writing regarding a recent Settlement Agreement in
which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stipulated to a paltry $3,714
penalty to chronic Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violator, Carson & Barnes
Circus Co., Inc. ("Carson & Barnes"), to settle 10 violations of
the AWA, including an elephant escape and eight other violations that directly
endangered the public and animals. (See Ex. 1.) Although Carson &
Barnes faced a maximum penalty of $100,000 for these violations, the USDA
assessed a fine of less than 4 percent of that maximum—a drop in the bucket to
a company with $6.70 million in sales for 2011. (See Ex. 2.) Such a
miniscule penalty—if it can even be called that—has no deterrent impact
whatsoever. Indeed, just one week after the Settlement Agreement was
entered into, Carson & Barnes was again found in violation of the AWA. (See
As detailed in the attached
appendix, over the past two decades your office has issued four audit
reports—in 1992, 1995, 2005, and 2010—finding that the USDA's stipulated
penalties were so low that they provide no deterrent effect and that AWA
licensees view them as merely a cost of doing business. The instant matter
demonstrates that the USDA's penalty scheme remains ineffective and in desperate
need of revision in order effectuate the AWA's statutory policy to "insure
that animals intended for use … for exhibition purposes … are provided humane
care and treatment" (7 U.S.C. § 2131(1)). Please investigate the recent
settlement agreement with Carson & Barnes and, more broadly, the USDA's
continued failure to implement necessary changes to its penalty scheme and take
all appropriate action based upon your findings.
Thank you for your time.
Very truly yours,
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.