Sonny Perdue Sued by PETA Over Laughing Valley Ranch’s License Renewal

USDA Rubber-Stamped Traveling Exhibitor’s Renewal Application Despite Litany of Federal Animal Welfare Act Violations

For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Idaho Springs, Colo.

PETA filed a lawsuit this morning against U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue challenging his agency’s automatic renewal of federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses when it knew that the applicants—such as Laughing Valley Ranch in Idaho Springs—were violating the act.

The AWA prohibits licensing a facility that can’t demonstrate compliance with the act. However, before the USDA renewed Laughing Valley’s license, the facility was cited for 12 violations of the AWA in just one year, including repeatedly refusing to allow inspectors even to access the facility—a longstanding chronic issue at Laughing Valley. When the USDA was finally able to inspect the facility, it cited it for failing to supply adequate veterinary care to animals, including two alpacas and a goat with hooves so excessively overgrown that “[t]he toes on both alpacas [were] curling in outward directions.” Overgrown hooves can be extremely painful and cause foot infections, abscesses, and lameness. Despite all this—as well as a cruelty conviction, the seizure of more than 100 animals, and a pending enforcement action for more than 100 AWA violations—the USDA renewed Laughing Valley’s license.

“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 consistently violating federal law,” says PETA Foundation Vice President Delcianna Winders. “The government shouldn’t hand out licenses to facilities that leave animals to suffer without the most basic veterinary care.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that after renewing Laughing Valley’s AWA license, the USDA cited it for five violations of the AWA, including failing to give adequate veterinary care to four alpacas with overgrown hooves, a sheep with a matted coat, and a goat who was so underweight that her bones were protruding.

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

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