Feds Find Neglect at Local Guinea Pig Mill; PETA Calls For Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
August 9, 2023

Brittney Williams 202-483-7382

Madison, Wis.

PETA has just received damning U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports documenting rusted and potentially dangerous cage dividers that went unaddressed for five months despite repeated warnings and confinement of animals to “wet, soiled areas” amid an “excessive buildup” of feces—the latest in a string of animal welfare violations at an operation near Belmont that churns out guinea pigs for sale and is run by Jacob Lapp. PETA rushed a letter to Lafayette County District Attorney Jenna Gill asking her to investigate and file applicable charges against those responsible for the neglect at the facility, where over 4,000 animals are confined.

According to the latest report, on June 26 a USDA veterinarian instructed Lapp to fix the rusted dividers, warning that they couldn’t be properly sanitized and could become sharp and dangerous—the third such warning he has received this year. Over the past 18 months, the veterinarian documented multiple violations, including housing young and adult guinea pigs on wet and “excessively soiled” bedding with a severe buildup of feces and surrounded by “strong ammonia odors” and accumulations of trash. At one point, Lapp admitted that about 45 enclosures hadn’t been cleaned in at least two weeks.

“Animals in pet stores come from miserable guinea pig factories like this one, where filth, neglect, and suffering are rampant,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling on Lafayette County authorities to prosecute those responsible and urges everyone never to buy any animal from a breeder or pet store and to adopt from shelters instead.”

PETA is pursuing charges under state law because the USDA does not 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, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Gill follows.

August 9, 2023

The Honorable Jenna Gill

Lafayette County District Attorney

Dear Ms. Gill:

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 guinea pigs at a breeding facility operated by Jacob Lapp at 12547 Madden Rd. near Belmont. PETA hopes investigators will visit the facility with a veterinarian who has expertise in guinea pig health and welfare so that they can identify any animals in need of care and opine on the conditions of and for the approximately 4,000 animals there.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarian documented neglect at the facility in the attached reports, the latest of which was just made public. On June 26, the veterinarian found that a divider between cages was rusted, which he noted “can become … sharp.” The veterinarian had instructed Lapp to remedy this issue on January 23 and again on April 17. During the April inspection, the veterinarian found young guinea pigs confined to at least 12 enclosures that were “excessively soiled,” with wet bedding and a strong odor of ammonia nearby. Another nine enclosures housed older guinea pigs on “wet, soiled areas.”

In January, guinea pigs were found confined to approximately 10 enclosures amid “an excessive amount of wet [and] soiled material.” The veterinarian documented “strong ammonia odors” near some of the animals. In January 2022, Lapp apparently told the veterinarian that it had been at least two weeks since about 45 enclosures had been cleaned. As a result, many young guinea pigs were confined amid “excessive buildup” of feces. Approximately 25 enclosures were “excessively wet and soiled.”

These findings may violate Wisconsin Statute § 951.14, which requires that enclosures for animals be “adequately ventilated,” “periodic[ally] clean[ed] to remove excreta and other waste materials … to minimize health hazards,” and “maintained in good repair to protect the animals from injury.” 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.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis


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