PETA Seeks to Block Idaho Springs Animal Exhibitor’s License Renewal

History of Severe Neglect, Guilty Plea for Cruelty to Animals Prompt Request

For Immediate Release:
December 16, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Idaho Springs, Colo. – Today, PETA sent an urgent letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging the agency to deny renewal of the exhibitor’s license belonging to William Lee, owner of Laughing Valley Ranch (LVR). In its letter, PETA points out that Lee has a sordid history of denying animals the most basic necessities, including an incident in June 2012 when 14 different agencies seized more than 100 animals—including dogs, llamas, horses, and cats—after Lee apparently forced the animals to live in filth. Lee ended up pleading guilty to cruelty to animals. In addition, PETA is asking the USDA to investigate the December 5 escape of one of Lee’s reindeer, who got spooked after being used as a prop for the Lighting of Dillon event and remained at large until the following day. Lee’s current license expires on December 20.

“Laughing Valley Ranch is a monument to animal suffering and must not be allowed to renew its exhibitor’s license,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “Denying animals such basics as potable water and veterinary care for their medical conditions is not only despicable but also precisely what the Animal Welfare Act was designed to stop.”

Between February 2011 and November 2013, the USDA inspected LVR 26 times and found it in violation of the Animal Welfare Act on 20 of these inspections. LVR’s violations include the following:

  • May 31, 2011: Failure to give adequate veterinary care for three aged reindeer who had “excessively long hooves” that were “impacting the animals’ ability to walk in a comfortable manner”
  • September 26, 2011: Failure to provide rabbits with potable water
  • January 5 and April 5, 2012: Failure to give appropriate veterinary care to a 14-year-old reindeer who was observed lying down “[with] shallow, rapid breathing” and “[m]ucous … streaming from her nose”
  • January 12 and May 17, 2012: Failure to provide dogs with “adequate protection from the elements, posing a risk to their health and well-being”

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind