PETA Lawsuit Takes On License Renewals of Facilities That Violate Animal-Welfare Laws
For Immediate Release:
August 27, 2015
David Perle 202-483-7382
Sugarcreek, Ohio – PETA has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that challenges its current policy of automatically renewing federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses. The USDA does this even when the agency knows the applicants are in violation of the AWA—such as The Farm at Walnut Creek in Sugarcreek.
The AWA, which the USDA is charged with administering, prohibits licensing a facility that is not operating in accordance with the act. Henry Hampton, owner of The Farm at Walnut Creek, has been under investigation by the USDA for four years and been hit with dozens of citations for violating the AWA. This year, 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. Other violations include allowing employees to castrate lambs and dock their tails without veterinary guidance and allowing animals to suffer without veterinary care, including a ram languishing with a mass on his chest and four lambs with crusty eyes.
“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. The Farm at Walnut Creek received 21 citations the year before its license was renewed, including for interfering with an inspection in June 2014.
Other facilities implicated in PETA’s lawsuit include exhibitors in Alabama, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, and Texas as well as Hampton’s other facility in North Carolina.