Massive Disease Outbreak Uncovered at Local Animal-Breeding Facility

PETA Pushes Feds to Investigate Marshall Farms; as Many as 92% of Cats and 60% of Pigs Test Positive for Deadly Pathogens

For Immediate Release:
April 24, 2023

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

North Rose, N.Y.

PETA filed a formal complaint today calling for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate possible serious violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) following reports that a massive canine distemper outbreak affecting 250,000 baby ferrets had swept through a Marshall Farms breeding warehouse in 2022.

PETA has also uncovered multiple alarming cases of life-threatening bacterial infections in Marshall Farms’ cat colonies and pig colonies in Waverly and North Rose, New York, respectively—as documented in reports prepared by the company itself.

The massive supplier breeds and sells ferrets, cats, “mini pigs,” and dogs to pet stores and laboratories, including the National Institutes of Health, Cornell University, and Petco. Its North Rose facility houses as many as 20,000 dogs.

Marshall Farms shipped ferrets with canine distemper to “many locations” in the U.S. and Canada, according to a December 2022 report from the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, including large pet store chains, which reported receiving “acutely sick and dying” animals.

PETA obtained reports prepared by Marshall Farms that document that 20.6% to 92.2% of cats in the company’s breeding facilities have tested positive for the harmful and potentially deadly bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica, Pasteurellaccae, and group G β-hemolytic streptococci. Such unchecked transmission of bacteria—likely stemming in part from the close confinement of highly stressed animals—suggests serious violations of federal animal welfare regulations. Additional reports document that 60.4% of pigs in Marshall Farms’ breeding facilities have tested positive for porcine rotavirus, which can be fatal for piglets.

“Marshall Farms’ apparently sloppy practices put a quarter million animals at risk, and it reportedly shipped dying ferrets to pet stores and laboratories,” says PETA Vice President Dr. Alka Chandna. “PETA is calling on federal officials to take action against the company before any more animals are sickened or neglected.”

Ferrets infected with distemper suffer terribly, and when used in experiments, they can compromise results and jeopardize the health of other animals in laboratories. The disease causes diarrhea, fever, dehydration, and death, and it can spread through airborne exposure and shared food or water bowls.

PETA has called the CEO of Marshall Farms “one of the worst for animals in laboratories.” The operation has been cited for housing dogs and ferrets in filthy, decrepit wire cages in buildings teeming with mice and flies and failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care. Although U.S. regulations require that cages holding dogs only be large enough to permit them to stand up, sit down, lie down, and turn around, Marshall Farms has failed to provide them with even that amount of space—and dogs have sustained injuries as a result.

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 on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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