For Immediate Release:
July 19, 2021
Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382
Wilkes-Barre, Pa. – Armed with damning U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports documenting that guinea pigs went without veterinary care for painful eye conditions, were kept in waste-covered cages, and had access to only “deteriorated” food at a Luzerne County breeding mill, PETA sent a letter today to Capt. Leo D. Hannon Jr. of the Pennsylvania State Police, urging the agency to investigate and file state cruelty-to-animals charges, as warranted, against those persons responsible for causing such suffering.
Reports reveal that a USDA veterinarian visited the facility in January, noted the lack of adequate food, and instructed the mill’s owner to clean the cages and remove wet bedding—but again found filthy conditions in May. On the same day in May, the federal agent found, among other violations, that a guinea pig was suffering from a shrunken and discolored eye, while another had a swollen, ulcerated eyelid. The USDA ordered the owner to have the animals treated, but in June, the agent learned that neither animal had received veterinary care and one was in worse condition than before, as green mucus was draining from the eye.
“These reports reveal a hellhole whose owner fails to provide suffering animals with vital, basic care, even after warnings from the feds, and local authorities need to act to remove those animals and close the place down,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “This abject neglect is why PETA urges everyone never to buy animals from pet stores or breeders and to adopt from shelters.”
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 or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Hannon follows.
July 19, 2021
Captain Leo D. Hannon Jr.
Special Investigations Division
Pennsylvania State Police
Dear Capt. Hannon:
We’re writing to request that your agency investigate and file criminal charges as appropriate against those responsible for denying guinea pigs veterinary care, sustenance, and access to clean shelter at a Luzerne County breeding mill operated by Nelson H. Martin. We urge investigators to visit the facility with an unaffiliated veterinarian who has expertise in guinea pig health and welfare so that (s)he can identify any animals in need of care and opine on the conditions of and for the animals there.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarian documented persistent neglect in the attached reports. On May 20, the veterinary medical officer found that one guinea pig’s shrunken eye was discolored and opaque, while another’s eyelid was ulcerated and swollen. The federal agent instructed Martin to have both animals examined by a veterinarian. On June 9, the USDA veterinarian found that the first guinea pig remained in a similar condition, while the second animal’s eyelid was apparently even more ulcerated and swollen and was leaking green mucous. Martin reportedly admitted that he didn’t have a veterinarian examine either of them.
On January 27, some of the 261 guinea pigs at the mill had access only to “deteriorated” feed consisting of “mostly powder,” which the federal agent wrote “can lead to weight loss,” among other ailments. She found wet bedding and feces in guinea pig cages on January 27—and instructed Martin to clean up—but found similar conditions again on May 20.
Action by the USDA doesn’t preclude criminal liability under state law for federally licensed facilities and workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty against the animals there. The above-referenced omissions may violate Pennsylvania’s cruelty-to-animals statute, 18 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 5532. If you’d like to learn more about the USDA’s findings, please see the relevant contact information for the office in Riverdale, Maryland, here. Thank you for your time.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis