County Attorney to Face Courthouse Commotion Over Suffering Chinchillas

For Immediate Release:
January 27, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Faribault, Minn.

Brandishing just-obtained photographs of sick and injured animals at Moulton Chinchilla Ranch (MCR) near Chatfield, PETA supporters will descend on the courthouse office of Rice County Attorney John Fossum tomorrow to call on him to pursue cruelty-to-animals charges against MCR owner Dan Moulton. The protest comes after PETA received damning public records revealing that authorities seized 10 suffering chinchillas from MCR a full year ago because of their obvious neglect—yet Fossum’s office hasn’t taken action, leaving approximately 700 chinchillas to continue suffering in Moulton’s squalid shed.

When:    Friday, January 28, 11:45 a.m.

Where:    Rice County Courthouse, 218 Third St. N.W. (at the intersection with Second Avenue N.W.), Faribault

This Fillmore County case ended up with Fossum’s office after PETA, which investigated MCR last year, discovered that both the county prosecutor and the sheriff were friends with Moulton on social media. Last August, Fossum’s office cited a pending civil case by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a reason not to pursue criminal charges, even though the USDA doesn’t have the authority to enforce state anti-cruelty laws. The newly obtained records reveal numerous grounds for a state cruelty prosecution, including an independent veterinarian’s statement that the 10 chinchillas’ conditions were “severe enough to warrant their removal from the property due to probable cause of animal cruelty”; records from the Animal Humane Society (AHS) of Golden Valley revealing that six of the 10 chinchillas required euthanasia as a result of severe neurologic, eye, and/or dental disease that would have been treatable “had they received appropriate and timely veterinary care”; and the AHS humane agent’s statement that “[t]he evidence suggests that Daniel Moulton failed and/or was unwilling to provide [chinchillas] with adequate and consistent veterinary treatment that meets the minimum standard required by state law.”

“These documents paint a picture of neglect so egregious that it seems like an open-and-shut case, but it’s been a full year and Fossum’s office still won’t act,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Hundreds of chinchillas remain in danger in this callous abuser’s clutches, and PETA is urging the Rice County Attorney’s Office to hold him criminally accountable for these animals’ suffering.”

The USDA’s civil case—which addressed violations only through 2017 and therefore nothing documented by PETA or law-enforcement officials last year—concluded with a federal judge’s declaration that Moulton is “unfit” to hold a USDA license over an “astounding” record of federal animal welfare violations. But although a USDA inspection report from November documented that he had again knowingly denied veterinary care to suffering chinchillas, the agency still hasn’t seized any animals from him. PETA believes that a state prosecution for cruelty is the surviving chinchillas’ only hope.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.