For Immediate Release:
November 14, 2023
Brittney Williams 202-483-7382
Gainesville, Fla. – A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report just obtained by PETA revealed that Worms Wiggle In LLC, a breeding operation in Gainesville, has been found in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act again and has been cited for keeping mice in so high a density that it resulted in injuries—marking the 11th violation in less than a year. Despite this alarming pattern, the USDA has not rescued any animals or sought any penalties against the facility, so PETA sent an urgent letter today to Brian S. Kramer, state attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, asking him to send investigators and a veterinarian to visit the facility and file appropriate charges against those responsible for the neglect.
On October 3, a USDA inspector found mice with scabs on their tails and wounded backs in two enclosures. The inspector noted that packing too many animals into an enclosure and housing incompatible animals together can “lead to injuries or even death.” The facility was previously warned about this in June, when mice with similar injuries were found. The October 3 report also cited the operation for keeping 179 animals—beyond the maximum of 100 animals that the operation is allowed to hold.
“Injured animals, filth, and rampant neglect are all too common in miserable mills like this one,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on Alachua County authorities to take action against those responsible for this shameful pattern of mistreatment and urges the public to steer clear of pet stores and breeders.”
An earlier inspection found that an opossum and a hedgehog were confined amid a buildup of their excrement and that flies had “overwhelmed the facility.” The floor of the showroom was littered with old bedding material, dead insects, and debris, potentially posing a disease hazard to the animals.
PETA is pursuing charges under state law because the USDA doesn’t render relief or aid to animals during its inspections and these violations carry no federal criminal or civil penalties.
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 investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Kramer follows.
November 14, 2023
The Honorable Brian S. Kramer
State Attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit
Dear Mr. Kramer:
I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your office (and the proper law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and, as suitable, file criminal charges against those responsible for neglecting animals at Worms Wiggle In LLC, a breeding operation located at 3541 N.W. 34th Pl. in Gainesville. PETA hopes investigators will visit the facility with a veterinarian who has expertise in exotic-animal health and welfare so that they can identify any animals in need of care and opine on the conditions of and for the approximately 180 small mammals there.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff have repeatedly documented neglect at the operation in the attached reports, the latest of which was just made public. On October 3, a USDA veterinarian found two cages of spiny mice whose backs were injured and who had scabs on their tails—apparently, the result of fights caused by keeping the animals in “too high a density.” On June 1, another USDA veterinarian had similarly found spiny mice with red and scabbed injuries to their tails.
On October 13, 2022, a third USDA veterinarian had found “a build up of fecal material” in cages confining an opossum and a hedgehog and that flies had “overwhelmed the facility” and surrounded cages housing animals.
This neglect may violate Florida’s prohibition against cruelty to animals, F.S.A. § 828.12(1). The USDA renders no aid or relief whatsoever to animals on site, and these reports carry no criminal or civil penalties and don’t preempt criminal liability under state law for neglecting animals. If you’d like to learn more about the agency’s findings, please see the contact information for its office in Riverdale, Maryland, here.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis