U.S. Rep. Blasts Feds’ Delay in Investigating Florida Primate Dealer

Case Drags on Years After PETA Provided Evidence of Scores of Animal-Welfare Violations

For Immediate Release:
August 3, 2017

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


Decrying the “lack of timely [and] effective enforcement of [animal-welfare] law,” Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) is going public with his correspondence (available here and here) with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) concerning the agency’s more than two-year delay in closing a case against Florida monkey dealer Primate Products, Inc., where a PETA video sting uncovered egregious animal-welfare violations.

The case has now remained open for 772 days as of today—leaving animals in danger, as systemic problems potentially continue.

Boyle also cited a second case that has been unreasonably delayed, against Pennsylvania small-animal dealer Holmes Farm. This investigation, which was also prompted by a PETA video investigation, has remained open for 572 days as of today.

In a letter to Boyle from the USDA’s Dr. Jere L. Dick, the agency contends that the cases were still “undergoing internal Agency review” and that a case currently takes an average of 363 days to close—11 percent longer than in 2014. The average animal-protection case takes even longer: 499 days.

Meanwhile, in the time that the USDA has sat on the Primate Products case, PETA’s investigations division has closed more than 23 investigations, secured the filing of 519 criminal charges and the convictions of 45 defendants, and worked with law enforcement to seize nearly 200 animals.

Boyle’s statement reads, in part:

This spring, I reached out to the USDA on behalf of some constituents who are disturbed by cases of animal abuse and neglect in Pennsylvania and around the country. Many such cases involve confirmed violations of our most basic standards for animal welfare—yet the USDA’s investigations of these violent practices were delayed for months or even years. I was extremely troubled to learn from USDA that there is a backlog of nearly 500 open, uninvestigated cases of animal-welfare violations and that the average time it takes to close such a case is 499 days. I remain committed to addressing this backlog and lack of timely, effective enforcement of federal law.

At Primate Products, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on or abuse in any other way”—revealed that sick and injured monkeys were sometimes denied adequate veterinary care and forced to live in filthy, barren, and dangerous conditions. Some paced in circles and rocked back and forth from anxiety and stress. Workers crudely shoved protruding rectal tissue—which can be a sign of extreme distress—back into monkeys’ bodies and grabbed the animals by their tails, which can cause irreversible nerve pain. After an initial inspection prompted by PETA’s complaint, USDA inspectors found 25 violations of nine animal-welfare regulations and opened the lengthy investigation.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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