We’ll cut to the chase: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must confiscate the animals in agony at Craig Kokas’ breeding facility. The agency’s October 2022 inspection report confirms that animals there are suffering horribly due to Kokas’ failure to comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). He has received 55 citations just this year, and the parched, ailing, and desperate animals at his facility need help now. The agency has the authority to help them and a moral responsibility to act.
Here’s what animals have endured at Kokas’ hands, according to the USDA:
- A young raccoon missing a foot received no veterinary treatment, and her wound was left to reopen.
- Seven minks had open, untreated wounds.
- Several emaciated animals received no veterinary intervention.
- Drinking water was so sparse—many water receptacles were completely dry at the time of the inspection—that most animals drank for several minutes when offered it.
- Animals were held in enclosures with “excessively large accumulations of feces.”
- Shelter was so inadequate that animals were psychologically and physically harmed.
This latest USDA inspection report follows a 21-day suspension of Kokas’ license and several other damning reports so far this year, and it goes to show that nothing is improving for the animals. In a previous inspection, Kokas was cited for removing juvenile skunks’ scent glands, a major surgery, without proper anesthesia or postoperative care. This caused the skunks to experience “unnecessary pain and discomfort” and a “high risk for complications such as rectal prolapse”—a condition that Kokas admitted to seeing in many of the adult skunks at the facility.
No Veterinarian, No Records, No Oversight
Kokas’ inability to comply with the AWA is stunning. The most recent USDA inspection of his facility found at least 22 animals in need of veterinary care, but he had no attending veterinarian available to treat them.
He had no record of animals on hand and incomplete records of animal acquisitions and dispositions, including deaths. This means that an untold number of animals may be dying at his facility with no oversight or accountability. The USDA also found that Kokas had failed to record required information about whom he was selling animals to, hindering the agency’s ability to track animal movements in the event of a disease outbreak.
Wild Animals Are Not Companions
Kokas’ horrendous treatment of the many animals in his custody is a stark reminder that exotic animals should never be treated as companions—and that those involved in selling them can’t be trusted. Learn more about the exotic-animal trade and why you shouldn’t support it if you care about animals.