PETA Lawsuit Takes On License Renewals of Facilities That Violate Animal-Welfare Laws
For Immediate Release:
August 26, 2015
David Perle 202-483-7382
Mooresville, N.C. – PETA filed a lawsuit this morning in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that challenges its policy of automatically renewing federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses. The USDA does this even when the agency knows that the applicants are in violation of the AWA—such as Henry Hampton, owner of the Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville.
The AWA, which the USDA is charged with administering, prohibits licensing a facility that is not operating in accordance with the act. Hampton has been under investigation by the USDA for four years and been hit with dozens of citations for violating the AWA—yet his license has continually been renewed. This year alone, the USDA cited Hampton for his inhumane use of a paralytic drug to restrain animals, which can paralyze their respiratory systems, suffocating them while they’re still conscious. He has also illegally allowed a highly social lemur to languish in isolation without adequate enrichment—initially failing to approve an enrichment plan through a veterinarian and then, in June 2015, failing to implement one that was adequate. In the same inspection, he was cited again for confining a lemur to a building in which the temperature reached 92 degrees.
“The USDA hands out license renewals like Halloween candy to exhibitors who leave caged animals to suffer without veterinary care when they need it,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the government to stop rubber-stamping the applications of businesses that abuse animals and break the law.”
PETA’s lawsuit argues that applicants cannot simultaneously violate the AWA and be in compliance with it—so the USDA’s rubber-stamping policy is illegal.
Other facilities implicated in PETA’s lawsuit include exhibitors in Alabama, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Texas as well as Hampton’s other facility in Ohio.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.