PETA Wants Cruelty-to-Animals Charges for Accused Local Arsonist

For Immediate Release:
June 1, 2023

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Fond du Lac County, Wis. – This morning, PETA sent a letter to Eric Toney and Mark Bensen, the district attorneys for Fond du Lac and Washington counties, respectively, asking them to add cruelty-to-animals charges to those that Daniel Enright currently faces for allegedly igniting at least eight fires that have burned across an estimated 60 acres of land in the area since 2020.

The letter notes that a “vast number of species, including sandhill cranes, spotted salamanders, and star-nosed moles,” were residing in and around Kettle Moraine State Forest, where at least one of the fires occurred, and that causing animals to suffer and die painfully, as was likely the case in these fires, violates Wisconsin’s animal protection laws.

“An untold number of terrified animals likely burned and died in agony, and the natural homes of even more of them were destroyed,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “The person responsible for so much suffering should face charges, and PETA is asking anyone who found an animal harmed or killed due to one of these wildfires to please come forward.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—points to precedents: Prosecutors in California and Oregon added cruelty-to-animals charges in similar wildfire cases, resulting in convictions on those charges.

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PETA’s letter to Toney and Bensen follows.

June 1, 2023

The Honorable Eric Toney

District Attorney

Fond du Lac County

The Honorable Mark Bensen

District Attorney

Washington County

Dear Messrs. Toney and Bensen:

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your offices add cruelty-to-animals charges, as appropriate, to the charges of arson and intentionally setting fire to another’s land that Daniel Enright already faces in connection with at least eight fires in Fond du Lac and Washington counties since 2020.

Although thankfully no humans lost their lives, the countless wild animals who resided on the approximately 60 acres of land estimated to have burned were undoubtedly less fortunate. The forests, marshes, and grasslands in and around the Kettle Moraine State Forest—where at least one of the fires occurred—are home to a vast number of species, including sandhill cranes, spotted salamanders, and star-nosed moles. Wildfires inflict terror and suffering on these (and other) animals—and cause them to endure prolonged, agonizing deaths.

Wis. Stat. § 951.02 states that “[n]o person may treat any animal … in a cruel manner.” Wis. Stat. § 951.01(2) defines “cruel” as “causing unnecessary and excessive pain or suffering or unjustifiable injury or death.” Given that Enright is accused of intentionally starting multiple wildfires that surely led to unnecessary and unjustifiable suffering, injury, and death for an untold number of animals—and that such conduct hardly qualifies as the lawful taking of wild animals otherwise exempt from prosecution—we respectfully ask that investigators and your offices add mistreatment-of-animals charges to the ones he already faces. Prosecutors in California and Oregon pursued these charges in similar cases that resulted in convictions last year.

Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work you do.


Sarah Deffinger

Senior Evidence Analyst

Cruelty Investigations Department

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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“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

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