Sonny Perdue Sued by PETA Over Deer Haven Mini Zoo’s License Renewal

USDA Rubber-Stamped Roadside Zoo’s Renewal Application Despite 77 Federal Animal Welfare Act Violations in the Past Year

For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Keymar, Md.

PETA filed a lawsuit this morning against U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue that challenges his agency’s automatic renewal of several federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses, even when it knew that the applicants—such as Deer Haven Mini Zoo in Keymar, which has been cited 77 times in the past year—were in violation of the act. The AWA prohibits licensing a facility that can’t demonstrate that it’s operating in accordance with the act, and last summer, the USDA announced that it would consider revamping its AWA licensing practices so that facilities with a history of noncompliance aren’t handed renewals year after year, which violates the law. However, just two weeks after Deer Haven’s license was renewed, the USDA cited the facility for six repeat violations of the AWA involving unsanitary and unsafe conditions. The USDA has cited Deer Haven so many times for cleaning, sanitation, waste disposal, and general maintenance issues that it concluded that the facility lacks enough adequately trained employees to provide the basic level of care required under the AWA.

“PETA is calling on Secretary Perdue to stop violating the law by letting the USDA sign off on license renewals when the agency knows that applicants are mistreating animals and are consistently out of compliance with federal law,” says PETA Foundation Vice President Delcianna Winders. “The government shouldn’t hand out licenses to facilities that deny sick and dying animals proper veterinary care and leave them to suffer in filth.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that the USDA has cited Deer Haven numerous times for depriving animals of adequate veterinary care, including in one instance last year, when the facility failed to provide a lethargic coatimundi with veterinary care for about three months. When the USDA returned to re-inspect the animal, she was gone and staff refused to say what had happened to her. Deer Haven has also been cited for killing an injured deer “by gunshot” and for failing to provide a deer who’d been gored and eviscerated by a buck with any veterinary care, leaving the animal to suffer in “extreme pain and distress” for five days before he or she died.

Other facilities implicated in PETA’s lawsuit include roadside zoos in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, and Ohio.

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