Feds Find Killing, Neglect at Animal Breeder—Police Urged to Take Action

Violent Killing, Systemic Neglect of Hundreds of Animals Likely Violate State Law, PETA Says

For Immediate Release:
April 22, 2020

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Loganton, Pa.

Armed with damning U.S. Department of Agriculture reports documenting squalor, neglect, and the gruesome killing of animals at a guinea pig breeding mill near Loganton, PETA sent a letter today urging the Pennsylvania State Police to investigate, with a veterinarian in tow, and, as appropriate, pursue cruelty-to-animals charges against those responsible for causing animals to suffer.

Mill personnel admitted to recently killing up to five guinea pigs with “blunt force trauma”—i.e., blows to the head. Animals suffered from swollen or sunken eyes that were crusted shut as well as severely swollen and discolored feet, yet their painful conditions were never reported to a veterinarian or treated. A federal veterinarian found one newborn guinea pig dead and documented that almost all the enclosures for the 1,248 animals contained “a thick layer of excess fecal material.”

“These reports reveal a hellhole where hundreds of guinea pigs were left to suffer in filth, including without veterinary care, while others’ heads were bashed in,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Their suffering is exactly why PETA urges everyone to adopt animals from shelters and rescue groups and never buy them from pet stores or breeders.”

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, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Capt. Leo D. Hannon Jr., director of the Special Investigations Division of the Pennsylvania State Police, follows.

April 22, 2020

Captain Leo D. Hannon Jr.


Special Investigations Division

Pennsylvania State Police

Dear Capt. Hannon,

PETA requests that your agency promptly investigate and, as appropriate, file criminal charges against those responsible for killing guinea pigs with “blunt force trauma,” depriving at least four sick animals of necessary veterinary care, and keeping more than 1,000 of them amid their own feces in recent months at a breeding mill near Loganton operated by John K. Esh. A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarian documented the killings, neglect, and squalor in the attached reports. We urge your agency to bring an objective veterinarian with expertise in guinea pig health and care with you when you visit the facility to identify any animals in need of care and opine on conditions of and for the animals there.

On January 30, mill personnel told the federal agent that they had recently killed up to five guinea pigs with blunt force trauma—i.e., one or more blows to the head. The same day, the veterinarian found a “minimally responsive” newborn guinea pig whose “sunken” eyes were “crusted shut,” another newborn whose swollen left eye was sealed shut, and a third young guinea pig whose right eye was largely covered with a “white cloudy film.” Although the veterinarian noted that such conditions can be “painful” and even fatal, Esh’s facility had not treated the animals or even contacted its attending veterinarian about them. The federal veterinarian found another newborn guinea pig dead and saw that “approximately 90%” of the enclosures contained “a thick layer of excess fecal material,” which also contaminated the food for most of the 1,248 animals.

Last month, the same federal agent found a guinea pig whose front feet were “severely swollen” and discolored. She noted that the animal was “reluctant to place weight on the front feet” and that the condition “can be painful.” Mill personnel “had observed the condition” but, again, “had not contacted the attending veterinarian and [weren’t] applying any treatments.”

These killings and systemic neglect appear to violate 18 Pa.C.S. § 5533 and 18 Pa.C.S. § 5532, respectively. USDA action doesn’t preclude criminal liability under state law for federally licensed facilities and workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals there. If you’d like to learn more about the USDA’s findings, please find the relevant contact information here. Thank you.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

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