‘Stop Unlicensed Exotic-Animal Auction Operator,’ PETA Urges Feds

For Immediate Release:
March 7, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Shelby, N.C.

This morning, PETA sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notifying the agency that Colton Morris—the organizer of the Shelby Alternative Livestock Auction, where a damning investigation by PETA caught workers kicking, whipping, shoving, and dragging vulnerable species—has been operating as an animal dealer without the requisite USDA license for years. PETA is asking the USDA to prevent him from organizing another exotic-animal auction without a license.

Since 2016, Morris has sold over 250 Animal Welfare Act (AWA)-regulated animals and exhibited animals at Nativity scenes, all without an AWA license. Last week, as PETA supporters demanded that the owners of the Cleveland County Agriculture & Livestock Exchange—the site of Morris’ last exotic-animal auction—stop the auction from recurring (photos available here), the event planned for March 18 and 19 was canceled. However, Morris announced that another auction would be held in a new location in the future.

“Workers at Colton Morris’ last auction were caught beating and whipping animals, and in addition, operating without a license means that he’s not being held accountable for meeting even the most minimal welfare standards required by law,” says PETA Vice President Dan Paden. “PETA is calling on authorities to stop any more of this unlicensed auction operator’s wild-animal swap meets from going forward.”

At Morris’ last exotic-animal auction, PETA found that workers kicked animals, hit them with poles, dragged them by their horns, and held frantic, flailing animals upside down. Animals were jammed into crowded pens and improvised cages so small that they couldn’t fully stand or turn around. Afterward, Morris was cited for selling water buffaloes without an AWA license but not—yet—for organizing the auction.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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