USDA Rubber-Stamped Roadside Zoo Owner's Renewal Application Despite Dozens of Federal Animal Welfare Act Violations
For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2018
David Perle 202-483-7382
Sugarcreek, Ohio – PETA filed a lawsuit this morning against U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue that challenges his agency’s automatic renewal of federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses, even when it knew that the applicants—such as notorious animal exhibitor Henry Hampton, who operates two facilities, including The Farm at Walnut Creek in Sugarcreek—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 is illegal. However, after Hampton’s license was renewed, the USDA cited The Farm at Walnut Creek for failing to supply adequate veterinary care to a limping antelope whose suffering the facility hadn’t even noticed. The roadside zoo had been cited for 14 violations of the AWA before its recent license renewal. Hampton has also been cited for years for allowing dangerous unsupervised public contact with animals and for authorizing the use of a tranquilizing drug that has no pain-relieving properties and can cause distress, paralyze respiratory muscles, and impede animals’ breathing, causing them to die of suffocation while fully conscious but immobilized.
“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 of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders. “The government shouldn’t hand out licenses to facilities that deny sick animals critical veterinary care and leave them to suffer without help.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that, in the past, Walnut Creek has been cited for performing painful tail-docking and castrations on animals without veterinary supervision and for leaving a massive heap of animal waste and soiled bedding for years in an area accessible to animals.
Other facilities implicated in PETA’s lawsuit include Hampton’s other roadside zoo in North Carolina as well as operations in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, and Texas.
For more information, please visit PETA.org.