Animal Welfare Act: Related Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
Horton v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 559 Fed.Appx. 527 (6th Cir. 2014) Petitioner sold dogs and puppies without an Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) dealer license. An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found the Petitioner violated the AWA and issued a cease and desist order to prevent further violations of the Act and ordered Petitioner to pay $14,430 in civil penalties. Both Petitioner and Respondent, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”), appealed the ALJ's decision to a judicial officer (“JO”), acting for the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, who increased the civil penalties amount from $14,430 to $191,200. Petitioner appealed this decision, alleging that (1) the ALJ and JO erred by failing to determine the willfulness of his actions, and (2) the JO improperly applied the Department's criteria for assessing civil penalties. The 6th Circuit found that since the AWA did not contain a willfulness requirement, the JO's failure to make a willfulness determination was not an abuse of discretion. Further, the 6th Circuit held that the JO's factual findings regarding Petitioner's dog sales were supported by substantial evidence. Lastly, the 6th Circuit held the size of the civil penalty assessed against Petitioner was warranted by law. The court denied the petition for review and affirmed the Secretary's Decision and Order.
In re: Jennifer Caudill 2013 WL 604009 (U.S.D.A. Feb. 1, 2013) Although the Complaint alleged that Caudill made false or fraudulent statements and/or provided false or fraudulent records to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the emphasis in the Complaint suggested that primary reliance was being placed upon the more general determination of unfitness. The Complaint alleged that Respondents (collectively, including Caudill) engaged in activities designed to circumvent an order of the Secretary of Agriculture in revoking the Animal Welfare Act exhibitor's license previously held by Lancelot Kollman Ramos, and have acted as surrogates for Ramos. Caudill and Kalmanson were alleged to continue to act as Ramos's surrogates, and to facilitate the circumvention of his license revocation order. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found factual support for termination on the grounds of false statements and providing false documents to be lacking. The AJL also found little support for the conclusion that Caudill in any way was operating as a surrogate for Ramos. The ALJ did find that although Caudill had initiated discussions with Ramos concerning the purchase of his animals prior to the effective date of his license revocation, her subsequent consummation of the transaction after his license had been revoked constitutes a violation of 9 C.F.R. § 2.132. In the end, however, the evidence was insufficient to find that Respondent Caudill was unfit to hold an AWA license or that maintenance of a license by her would in any way be contrary to the purposes of the Act
Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Perdue --- F.3d ----, 2017 WL 4320804 (D.C. Cir. Sept. 29, 2017) The Secretary of Agriculture is directed by the Animal Welfare Act to promulgate regulations governing minimum animal housing and care standards and to issue licenses for animal exhibitionists only if they adhere to these standards. The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the Department of Agriculture for renewing Tom and Pamela Sellner's Cricket Hollow Zoo in Iowa despite multiple violations of the animal welfare requirements set forth in the Act. In fact, the USDA had filed an administrative complaint against the Sellners and commenced a formal investigation in 2015 According to the court, the USDA has established a "bifurcated" approach to licensing, where initial applicants must comply with regulations and pass an agency compliance inspection, while license renewal applicants must only pay a fee and agree to continue to comply with regulations. After the District Court's dismissal of the case, the Court of Appeals affirmed in part but remanded back to the District Court the question whether the USDA's reliance on self-certification was an arbitrary and capricious action with instructions to get further explanation from the agency. As stated by the court, "On remand, the agency must, at a minimum, explain how its reliance on the self-certification scheme in this allegedly “smoking gun” case did not constitute arbitrary and capricious action."
Big Cats of Serenity Springs, Inc. v. Vilsack --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2015 WL 1432069 (D. Colo. 2015) In an amended complaint, Plaintiffs asserted four claims against Defendants relating to a May 7, 2013 United States Department of Agriculture inspection of Big Cats of Serenity Springs, Inc. The claims included a Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against the Inspector Defendants “because they acted under color of state law when they induced the deputies to cut the chains and enter the premises;” a declaratory judgment “declaring that [Defendant] Thompson inappropriately overrode the medical advice of [Plaintiff] Big Cats' veterinarians and declaring that, in the future, the USDA cannot force [Plaintiff] Sculac to choose between following the medical advice of his veterinarians and the mandates of a USDA inspector;” and a declaratory judgment that the USDA must follow its own regulations and that it cannot conduct a warrantless search of the Big Cats facility outside of ‘normal business hours' solely because an inspector ‘want [s] to’ or because an inspector subjectively ‘believe[s][it] necessary to determine the welfare status of the animals....' ” In addition to declaratory relief, Plaintiffs also sought compensatory and punitive damages, costs, expenses, and prejudgment interest. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. US Magistrate Judge issued a recommendation that, to the extent the Motion argued that the declaratory judgment claims should be dismissed because Plaintiffs lack standing, the Motion be granted in part and denied in part and that the declaratory judgment claims asserted by Plaintiffs Nick Sculac, Julie Walker, and Jules Investment, Inc. be dismissed without prejudice. In all other aspects, the Magistrate recommended that the Motion be denied. A District Court judge approved and adopted these recommendations and denied defendant’s objections to the recommendations.
Am. Anti-Vivisection Soc'y v. United States Dept. of Agric. --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2018 WL 6448635 (D.D.C. Dec. 10, 2018). The American Anti-Vivisection Society and the Avian Welfare Coalition sued the Department of Agriculture and its Secretary alleging that the Department's failure to promulgate bird-specific regulations is unreasonable, unlawful, and arbitrary and capricious in violation of the APA. The Plaintiffs sought court-ordered deadlines by which the Department must propose such rules. The Department moved to dismiss the Plaintiff's claims arguing that the Plaintiffs lack standing to sue, that it is not required by law to promulgate regulations for birds, and that it has not taken a final action reviewable by the court. The District Court ultimately held that, although the Plaintiffs have standing to sue, both of their claims fail. The Department is not required by the Animal Welfare Act to issue avian-specific standards; rather, it must to issue welfare standards that are generally applicable to animals. Secondly, although the Department has not taken any action to develop avian-specific standards, that does not mean that will not do so in the future. The District Court granted the department's motion to dismiss.
PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS, INC., Plaintiff, v. WILDLIFE IN NEED AND WILDLIFE IN DEED, INC. --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 4448481 (S.D. Ind. Aug. 3, 2020) Wildlife in Need and Wildlife in Deed, Inc. ("WIN") is a zoo located in Charlestown, Indiana owned by Timothy Stark and Melissa Lane that houses exotic and endangered animals, including Big Cats like lions, tigers, and hybrids. WIN exhibits Big Cats to the public through hands-on encounters called “Tiger Baby Playtime” so Stark routinely declaws Big Cat cubs in his possession so he can handle them easier, not for any medical reason. Stark admitted to declawing "about a dozen cubs" in 2016 alone. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. ("PETA") filed this lawsuit against Stark and Lane and their WIN zoo alleging that the defendants harassed and wounded Big Cats in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specifically, this case asks whether certain animal exhibitors have "taken" various species of Big Cats by declawing them and prematurely separating them from their mothers to use in hands-on, public interactions. By granting PETA's motion for Partial Summary Judgment, this court concludes that such conduct constitutes a "taking" and thus violates the ESA. The court noted that PETA's motion for preliminary injunction was granted in 2017, restraining defendant from declawing any Big Cats absent a medical necessity supported by a veterinarian's opinion. Then, on February 12, 2018, the court preliminarily enjoined the WIN Defendants from declawing their Big Cats, prematurely separating Big Cat Cubs from their mothers, and using Cubs in Tiger Baby Playtime. The court previously concluded that declawing constitutes a “taking” under the ESA at the preliminary injunction stage, and now found "there is no good reason to disturb that conclusion." Thus, the court again concludes the WIN Defendants' declawing constitutes a “taking” under the ESA: it “harasses” Big Cats by creating a likelihood of significantly disrupting normal behavioral patterns; it “harms” Big Cats by actually injuring them; and it “wounds” Big Cats by inflicting a physical injury. In addition to granting the permanent injunction, the court also directed PETA to file a motion to appoint a special master and identify a reputable wildlife sanctuary for the animals housed at WIN.
Just Puppies, Inc. v. Frosh --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 607026 (D. Md. Feb. 7, 2020) The State of Maryland passed a “No More Puppy-Mill Pups Act” which went into effect January 1, 2020. The Act prohibits retail pet stores in Maryland from offering for sale or otherwise transferring or disposing of cats or dogs. Four pet stores, a dog breeder, and a dog broker filed suit against Brian Frosh, the Attorney General of Maryland, the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Maryland Attorney General (CPD), the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee, and the Maryland State Senate Finance Committee seeking an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the Act as well as a declaration that it is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The Defendants were all entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, unless an exception were to apply. Under the Ex parte Young exception “private citizens may sue state officials in their official capacities in federal court to obtain prospective relief from ongoing violations of federal law.” The CPD and Committee Defendants were not State officials and, therefore, they did not fall within the Ex parte Young exception. The Ex parte Young exception, however, applied to Mr. Frosh as he was the Attorney General of Maryland since he had some connection with the enforcement of the Act. In Counts I, II, and III, the Plaintiffs alleged that the Puppy-Mill Act violated the Constitution's Commerce Clause. The Court found that the Plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that the Act discriminated against out-of-state breeders and brokers in its text, in its effect, or in its purpose. Count IV alleged that the Puppy-Mill Act was preempted by the AWA. The Court found that prohibiting Maryland pet stores from selling dogs or cats had no effect on the operation of the AWA. The Puppy-Mill Act's impact on pet stores did not clash with the AWA, because pet stores were explicitly exempt from the AWA. Count V alleged that the Puppy-Mill Act deprived Plaintiffs of their constitutional right to the equal protection of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Court found no merit in this argument. Count VI asserted that the Act created a monopoly prohibited by Article 41 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. The Court found that the Puppy-Mill Act did not constitute an exclusive right to sell cats and dog in Maryland. Although the Act prohibited brick and mortar stores from participating in the sale of cats and dogs, consumers still had a plethora of choices when seeking to obtain a pet, including rescue shelters, animal control units, USDA licensed breeders and brokers, and unregulated hobby breeders. The Court ultimately dismissed all claims against the CPD and the Committee Defendants and allowed the claims against Brian Frosh to proceed.
Terranova v. United States Dep't of Agric. --- Fed.Appx. ----, 2020 WL 4589346 (5th Cir. Aug. 10, 2020) Petitioners seek review of a decision and order of the USDA/APHIS determining that they violated various provisions of the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) and its implementing regulations, imposing civil penalties, and revoking the exhibitor license granted to Terranova Enterprises, Inc. Petitioners were licensees who provide wild animals like tigers and monkeys for movies, circuses, and other entertainment. In 2015 and 2016, APHIS filed complaints against petitioners that they willfully violated multiple provisions of the AWA and knowingly violated a cease and desist order issued in 2011 to avoid future violations of the AWA. After consolidating the complaints, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") found that petitioners willfully committed four violations, so the ALJ issued a cease and desist order, suspended petitioners' license for 30 days, and assessed a $10,000 penalty and an $11,550 civil penalty for failing to obey the prior cease and desist order. On appeal by both parties to the Judicial Officer of the USDA, petitioners' exhibitor license was revoked and the penalties were increased to $35,000 and $14,850, respectively. On appeal here to the Fifth Circuit, petitioners claim that the determinations of the Judicial Officer were not supported by substantial evidence and that she abused her discretion in revoking their exhibitor license. This court found there was sufficient evidence to support the violations, including failing to allow APHIS officials to conduct compliance investigations and inspections, faulty tiger enclosures, insufficient distance/barriers between tigers and the public, failure to make an environmental enrichment plan, and failings involving tiger enclosure and protection from inclement weather, among other things. With regard to petitioners' claim that the Judicial Officer abused her discretion in revoking the exhibitor license, this court court found that petitioners committed more than one willful violation of the AWA so revocation was not unwarranted or without justification. The court concluded that the USDA Secretary’s order was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law, and that it was supported by substantial evidence. Therefore, the court denied the petition for review.
Toney v. Glickman 101 F.3d 1236 (8th Cir., 1996) Plaintiffs were in the business of selling animals to research facilities. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that they had committed hundreds of violations of the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2131 et seq. The ALH then imposed what was, to that point, the harshest sanction, $200,000, in the history of the Act. The Judicial Officer affirmed the ALJ's findings and denied the Plaintiffs' request to reopen the hearing for consideration of new evidence. While the 8th Circuit affirmed most of these findings, it held that the evidence did not support all of them. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter to the Department for redetermination of the sanction. The court also affirmed the Judicial Officer's refusal to reopen the hearing and denied the Plaintiffs' Request for Leave to Adduce Additional Evidence. The Plaintiffs were free, however, to seek leave to offer this additional evidence on remand to the extent it was relevant to the sanction.
Alternatives Research & Development Foundation v. Glickman 101 F.Supp.2d 7 (D.D.C.,2000)

In this case, the plaintiffs, a non-profit organization, a private firm and an individual, alleged that the defendants, the USDA and APHIS violated the mandate of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by promulgating regulations that exclude birds, mice and rats from the definition of “animal” under the Act. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that all three plaintiffs lack standing to bring suit. Defendants also moved to dismiss on the grounds that the exclusion of the three species is within the agency's Congressionally delegated discretion, not subject to judicial review. The court denied defendant's motion, holding that based on Lujan , defendants challenge to standing failed. Further, the AWA does not grant the USDA "unreviewable discretion" to determine what animals are covered under the AWA.

Puppies 'N Love, v. City of Phoenix 116 F. Supp. 3d 971 (D. Ariz. 2015) Defendant City of Phoenix passed an ordinance that prohibited pet stores from selling dogs or cats obtained from persons or companies that bred animals; pet stores could only sell animals obtained from animal shelters or rescue organizations. Puppies 'N Love operated a pet store in Phoenix that sold purebred dogs obtained from out-of-state breeders. Puppies 'N Love and its owners sued the City, claiming primarily that the Ordinance violated the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution by closing the Phoenix market to out-of-state breeders and giving an economic advantage to local breeders. All parties, including Intervenor Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”), filed motions for summary judgment. The District Court granted the Intervenor’s and the city’s motions, but denied Puppies ‘N Love’s motion, thereby upholding the ordinance.
Marine Mammal Conservancy, Inc. v. Department of Agr. 134 F.3d 409 (D.C. Cir. 1998)

A nonprofit organization petitioned for review of the order of administrative law judge (ALJ) which denied organization's motion to intervene in administrative proceedings under Animal Welfare Act. The Court of Appeals held that the organization's failure to appeal administrative denial to judicial officer precluded judicial review of ALJ's actions.

ALDF v. Glickman 154 F.3d 426 (1998)

Animal welfare group and individual plaintiffs brought action against, inter alia, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), challenging its regulations concerning treatment of nonhuman primates on grounds that they violated USDA's statutory mandate under Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Longhi v. APHIS 165 F3d 1057 (6th Cir. 1999)

APHIS was unsuccessful in asserting that an applicant who is part of one license as a partnership can not apply for another as a corporation.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. United States Department of Agriculture 194 F. Supp. 3d 404 (E.D.N.C. 2016), aff'd sub nom. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. United States Dep't of Agric., 861 F.3d 502 (4th Cir. 2017) In this case, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, In.c (PETA) filed a complaint against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). PETA argued that the USDA had violated the APA because the USDA has a “policy, pattern, and practice or rubber stamping” exhibitor license renewals to noncompliant animal exhibitors. Under the APA, any agency action that is found to be “arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion” must be held unlawful by the courts. The court in this case reviewed the facts of the case in accordance with the Chevron decision. According to the court in Chevron, a court must give deference to an agency if: (1) "the statutory language is silent or ambiguous with respect to the question posed," or (2) "the agency’s answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute.” The statutory language that the court considered in this case was the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that regulate the transportation, handling, and treatment of animals. Ultimately, the court determined that the AWA was silent with regard to exhibitor renewals and therefore moved to the second step of the Chevron decision. The court found that the AWA does not prohibit the USDA’s administrative renewal process for animal exhibitor licenses. The court held that the USDA did not act arbitrarily or abuse its description when it chose to renew certain exhibitor licenses. As a result, the court rejected PETA’s claim against the USDA.
Moore v. Garner 2005 WL 1022088 (E.D.Tex.)

Complaints were made against a plaintiff-couple about the poor conditions for over 100 dogs and other animals that were living in on the couple’s farm. The couple who owned the farm failed to do anything about it and the animals were seized.  Plaintiffs brought claims against sixty defendants (mainly Van Zandt County, Texas officials) for conspiracy and violations of the Hobbs Act, Animal Welfare Act, Animal Enterprise Protection Act, RICO, the Texas Constitution and other federal statutes.  The trial court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and the District Court affirmed. 

Slavin v. United States 2005 WL 742707 (8th Cir. 2005)

An Arkansas woman who raises gamefowl brought an action challenging the constitutionality of the Animal Welfare Act which prohibits the interstate transportation of birds for the purposes of fighting.  The trial court dismissed the woman's claim and the Court of Appeals affirmed holding the statute is not vague.

In re: MARJORIE WALKER, d/b/a LINN CREEK KENNEL 2006 WL 2439003 (U.S.D.A.)

Judicial Officer affirmed the Administrative Law Judge's decision that Marjorie Walker, d/b/a Linn Creek Kennel, violated the regulations of the Animal Welfare Act. The Judicial Officer stated that the Animal Welfare Act provides factors that must be considered when deciding the amount of civil penalty, and that the ability to pay the penalty is not a factor. Respondent was ordered to cease and desist from violating the regulations and standards, pay a $14,300 civil penalty, and the license was revoked .

Hemingway Home and Museum v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 2006 WL 3747343 (S.D. Fla.)

The plaintiff lived in Hemmingway's old property, a museum, with 53 polydactyl cats (cats having more than the usual number of toes). The United States Department of Agriculture investigated and said that the plaintiff needed to get an exhibitor's license to show the cats, but that was not possible unless the cats were enclosed. Plaintiff sued the government in order to avoid the $200 per cat per day fines assessed, but the court held that the government has sovereign immunity from being sued.

Diercks v. Wisconsin 2006 WL 3761333 (E.D. Wis. 2006)

An owner of a greyhound kennel was suspected of giving her dogs illegal steroids because an informant told the government agency this was happening. The particular steroid used was impossible to detect using urine samples, so the government agency, without a warrant, installed covert video cameras in the kennel and that way determined that the owner was injecting her dogs. The owner claimed this violated her Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights, and the court agreed; however, the agency actors were not liable because the state of the law on this issue was not clear and it was reasonable for them to think they could legally install the video surveillance system.

U.S. v. Korn 2010 WL 5110048 (D. Idaho Dec. 2010) The Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) brought an administrative action against Defendants for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act in connection with Defendants' exotic animal exhibition activities. A judgment was entered for a civil penalty of $57,750 against each Defendant in the administrative action. Defendants have refused to pay, claiming that their due process rights were violated in the underlying administrative proceeding; the judgment, they argued, was therefore void and unenforceable. The United States filed this matter against Defendants seeking to enforce that judgment. Before this Court were the cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff’s motion was granted because the Court could not overlook Defendant's absence of any effort to follow up with the Hearing Clerk, considering the many avenues of communication available. There were also no disputed issues of material fact concerning service of the Administrative Law Judge's Decision and Order, and provision of notice of Defendants' appeal rights. Moreover, this Court lacked jurisdiction to reconsider or otherwise vacate the Agency's final order. 7 U.S.C. § 2149(b) also permitted the institution of a civil action by the Attorney General to collect the penalty imposed and no other facts were presented disputing the validity of the administrative judgment imposing the civil penalty.
In re: Lee Marvin Greenly 2012 WL 3877414 (U.S.D.A. Aug. 22, 2012) Respondent Lee Marvin Greenly is an individual who operates what he describes as a photographic educational game farm along the scenic Kettle River near Sandstone, Minnesota. He is a licensed exhibitor under the Animal Welfare Act. A USDA complaint alleged that between March 14, 2006 and October 19, 2010 the Respondents committed some thirty-seven separate violations of the Act and its Regulationsincluding (a) failing to provide adequate veterinary care to their animals; (b) failing to establish a mechanism for communicating with the veterinarian; (c) failing to construct structurally sound housing facilities; (d) failing to timely remove and dispose of food waste; (e) failing to appropriately store food; (f) failing to adequately enclose outdoor facilities; (g) failing to make, keep and maintain adequate and appropriate records; (h) failing to provide environmental enrichment for the animals; (i) failing to allow access for unannounced inspections of the facility, the animals and records; (j) failing to handle animals so as to avoid trauma or physical harm; and (k) failing to handle animals so that there was minimal risk to the public and the animals by permitting direct contact between dangerous animals and members of the public, resulting in injuries to the public on three occasions, death to a neighbor's pet, and mandatory euthanization of one of the animals following one incident. In this order, an Administrative Law Judge issued a cease and desist order, as well as revoked Respondent’s license due to the violations.
In re: VANISHING SPECIES WILDLIFE INC. 2013 WL 4679456 (U.S.D.A.) An Administrative Law Judge issued a cease and desist order against Vanishing Species, Inc for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The ALJ also revoked the organization’s license and assessed civil penalties. Facts that led to these sanctions include: Respondent housing animals at a site without notifying APHIS of the location; a storm interfering with the air conditioning system that cooled a building that housed animals owned by Respondent, and because the system did not correct itself and Respondent did not provide an alternate cooling system or verify the health of the animals, at least one animal died; Respondent not having a currently signed program of veterinary care on February 4, 201; a wooden frame surrounding the water tub in the bear enclosure was in disrepair; the wooden horizontal support beam for the bear enclosure was cracked; and the vertical metal support next to the door of the skunk enclosure had exposed jagged edges that were accessible to animals.
In re: Tri-State Zoological Park of Western Maryland, Inc. 2013 WL 8214620 (U.S.D.A.) Mr. Candy started Tri-State, a zoo, in 2002 as a way to provide his children and other members of the community in Cumberland, Maryland, with an entertaining and educational activity. However, several violations of the Animal Welfare Act led to a cease and desist order and a 45 day suspension of the zoo’s license.
In re: Gus White 2014 WL 4311058 (U.S.D.A. May 13, 2014) This Administrative Order revoked the Animal Welfare Act exhibitors license and assessed a $39,375 civil penalty to the owners of Collins Exotic Animal Orphanage. The owners of the license were also order to cease and desist from in particular, shall cease and desist from: failing to maintain complete records showing the acquisition, disposition, and identification of animals; failing to maintain programs of disease control and prevention, euthanasia, and adequate veterinary care under the supervision and assistance of a doctor of veterinary medicine; failing to provide veterinary care to animals in need of care; failing to provide food for rabbits that is free of contamination, wholesome, palatable, and of sufficient quantity and nutritive value for the rabbits; failing to keep food receptacles for rabbits clean and sanitized; failing to locate food receptacles for rabbits so as to minimize contamination by excreta; failing to construct housing facilities for animals so that they are structurally sound; failing to maintain housing facilities for animals in good repair; failing, during public exhibition, to maintain a sufficient distance or barrier between animals and the general viewing public to assure the safety of the animals and the viewing public; failing to provide natural or artificial shelter appropriate to the local climatic conditions for animals kept outdoors to afford the animals protection and to prevent discomfort to the animals; failing to enclose all outdoor housing facilities for animals with a perimeter fence of sufficient height; and failing to remove excreta from primary enclosures as often as necessary to prevent contamination of the animals contained in the primary enclosures and to minimize disease hazards.
IN RE: LANCELOT KOLLMAN RAMOS 2015 WL 6561874 (U.S.D.A., 2015) Respondent Lancelot Kollman Ramos has worked as a circus performer and animal trainer his entire life. Ramos acquired Ned the elephant from William Woodcock, who was retiring from the circus. Ramos was aware of rumors that something was wrong with Ned, and he was aware that the animal was thin, but he did not know that it had any health problems. Despite the animal's emaciated condition, Ramos exhibited him in a circus. An Administrative Law Judge found Ramos willfully violated the Animal Welfare Act. $1,650 in fines were imposed on Ramos for violating a cease and desist order and another $5,000 was imposed on him for wilful failure to handle an animal as carefully as possible.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. United States Department of Agriculture 2017 WL 2352009 (N.D. Cal. May 31, 2017) (unpublished) The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regularly posted documents about the enforcement activities of the Defendant, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, (“APHIS”). The documents were posted on two online databases. However, APHIS grew concerned that its Privacy Act system was insufficient. Therefore, the USDA blocked public access to the two databases so that it could review and ensure that the documents did not contain private information. However, the Plaintiffs, animal welfare non-profit organizations, asserted that by blocking access to the databases, the USDA breached its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act's (“FOIA”)'s reading-room provision. The Plaintiff’s also asserted that the USDA's decision to block access was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”). Plaintiff's motioned for a mandatory preliminary injunction. The United States District Court, N.D. California denied the Plaintiffs motion and held that the Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their FOIA claim because (1) there is no public remedy for violations of the reading room provision and they have not exhausted administrative remedies. (2) The Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their claim under the APA because FOIA provides the Plaintiffs an adequate alternative remedy. The Plaintiffs cannot establish that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction or that the balance of harms weighs in their favor in light of the on-going review and privacy interests asserted by the USDA.
Humane Society of the United States v. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 2019 WL 2342949 (D.D.C. June 3, 2019) The Humane Society submitted two Freedom of Information Act requests to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. One was for site-inspection reports and the other was for inspection records for specific animal dealers and exhibitors. The Service released nine pages of inspection records in full but redacted information from the other 127 pages citing FOIA exemptions 6 and 7 that deal with privacy concerns. The Humane Society alleged that the redactions were improper and both parties filed Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. The Court found that the bulk of the Service’s redactions were improper under exemption 6 because the information did not implicate a licensee’s personal privacy interests. Exemption 6 was meant to protect individuals from public disclosure of intimate details of their lives. Details about a business’ compliance with regulations and statutes does not relate to intimate personal details. It only relates to business activities. Information about business judgments and relationships do not qualify for redaction. However, a substantial privacy interest is anything greater than a de minimus privacy interest and the licensees and third-parties had more than a de minimus privacy interest in their names, addresses, and contact information. The licensees were also homestead businesses meaning that the location of their business also served as their residence. The Court weighed the privacy interest in non-disclosure against the public interest in the release of the records and ultimately found that although the licensees and third parties had a substantial privacy interest in their names, addresses, and contact information, they only had a de minimus privacy interest in the other information that they withheld from the reports. If no significant privacy interest is implicated, FOIA demands disclosure. The service was required to disclose all reasonably segregable portions of the records that do not include identifying information. The Court found the Humane Society’s argument unpersuasive that releasing the addresses of the licensees would serve the public interest. The Service properly withheld the licensees’ addresses and names of third-party veterinarians. Exemption 7 allows for agencies to withhold information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of those law enforcement records could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The Humane Society argued that inspection reports are not compiled for law enforcement purposes because the existence of such a report does not, on its face, reveal that there is any particular enforcement or investigatory action occurring. The Court found that the inspection records relate to the Service’s responsibility to enforce the AWA and ensure that licensees are in compliance, therefore, there was a nexus between the reports and the Service’s law enforcement duties. The Court also conducted the same balancing test that they did with exemption 6 and held that the Service releasing information other than the licensees’ addresses and third parties’ names could not reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The Service properly withheld the licensees’ addresses and contact information and despite the Service’s improper withholding of dates, inspection narratives, animal inventories, etc., the Court found that they had otherwise met their burden of releasing all reasonably segregable information. Both the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment were granted in part and denied in part.
ALDF v. Glickman 204 F.3d 229(2000)

Animal welfare organization and individual plaintiffs brought action against United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), challenging regulations promulgated under Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to promote psychological well-being of nonhuman primates kept by exhibitors and researchers.  The Court of Appeals held that: (1) regulations were valid, and (2) animal welfare organization did not have standing to raise procedural injury. Case discussed in topic: US Animal Welfare Act

Hansen v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 221 F.3d 1342 (8th Cir. 2000) Judie Hansen petitions for review of a final decision of the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture. Because the 8th Circuit has no jurisdiction over the matter, the petition is dismissed.
Animal Legal Defense Fund, Inc. v. Espy 23 F.3d 496 (C.A.D.C.,1994)
In this case, animal welfare groups and two individuals challenged the regulation promulgated by Department of Agriculture that failed to include birds, rats, and mice as “animals” within meaning of Federal Laboratory Animal Welfare Act (FLAWA). The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, denied defendant's motion to dismiss, and subsequently granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. Defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals held that plaintiffs could not demonstrate both constitutional standing to sue and statutory right to judicial review under the APA. The Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case with directions to dismiss.
Alternative Research & Dev. Found. v. Veneman 262 F.3d 406 (D.C. Cir. 2001)

An animal rights foundation sought to have the definition of “animal” amended, so that birds, mice and rats used for research would not be excluded.   USDA agreed to consider the animal rights foundation petition to have the definition amended, and agreed to do so in reasonable amount of time.   The National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), a biomedical research group that used birds, mice and rats in its research, attempted to intervene and prevent USDA from considering the petition.   However, NABR was prohibited from doing so because there was no showing that preventing intervention would result in its interests not being violated.

Taub v. State of Maryland 296 Md. 439 (Md.,1983)

Maryland Court of Appeals held that animal-cruelty statute did not apply to researchers because there are certain normal human activities to which the infliction of pain to an animal is purely incidental and unavoidable.

Doris Day Animal League v. Veneman 315 F.3d 297 (D.C. Cir. 2003) Animal rights group brought action challenging validity of regulation exempting breeders who sell dogs from their residences from licensure under Animal Welfare Act. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, J., held that regulation was invalid, and appeal was taken. The Court of Appeals, Randolph, Circuit Judge, held that regulation was reasonable interpretation of Congressional intent.
Kollman Ramos v. U.S. Dept. Of Agr. 322 Fed.Appx. 814 (C.A.11)

Petitioner sought to have the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, set aside a Default Decision and Order of a United States Department of Agriculture Judicial Officer concluding that Petitioner had willfully violated multiple provisions of the AWA, including knowingly operating as a dealer without a license by delivering for transportation, or transporting, two lions for exhibition without a valid license to do so, causing injury to two lions that resulted in the death of one of the lions, and lying to investigators about Petitioner’s actions.   The Court affirmed the Judicial Officer’s Decision and Order, finding, among other things, that the USDA did not err in concluding that Petitioner failed to admit or deny any material allegations in the complaint and was thus deemed to have admitted all allegations, the Judicial Officer did not abuse his discretion by revoking Petitioner’s AWA license on a finding of willfulness, and that that the Judicial Officer’s Decision and Order did not violate fundamental principles of fairness as embodied in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Administrative Procedures Act, the Animal Welfare Act, and the USDA’s rules.

Lesser v. Epsy 34 F.3d 1301 (7th Cir. 1994) Owner had a rabbitry, and the rabbits were sold for scientific research.   Inspection of the rabbitry without a warrant occurred, and Owner claimed that his constitutional rights were violated.   Search without a warrant was appropriate because any deficiencies could have been easily concealed if notice of a search was provided to the Owner.  
United States v. Carrano 340 F.Supp.3d 388 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 4, 2018) Defendant Thomas Carrano was convicted after a jury trial of conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq. In 2016, Carrano, who was president of the United Gamefowl Breeders Association (“NYUGBA”), became the subject of an investigation by NYPD officers, ASPCA agents, and USDA agents for suspected cockfighting activities. In that investigation, these officers eventually searched Carrano's property and seized extensive animal fighting paraphernalia, some of which was covered in chicken blood. Defendant was indicted on a single count of conspiring to violate the AWA and was subsequently convicted by jury. In this appeal, defendant contends that the government failed to prove he joined a conspiracy to violate the AWA and failed to prove the interstate commerce requirement for the conspiracy. Defendant argues that the "substantial evidence against him, including the training videos, the vitamin supplements, the gaffs and postizas, and the dubbed birds" are consistent with showing chickens at a poultry show, rather than cockfighting. The court noted that the jury made permissible inferences as to the evidence that were consistent with cockfighting, and that a reviewing court will not substitute its judgment for that judgment. In addition, Facebook and text messages from defendant evidence the furtherance of a conspiracy. While defendant contends that the government failed to prove that he actually engaged in cockfighting during the relevant time period, the court stated that the conspiracy charge only required sufficient evidence showing defendant agreed to deal in chickens for a fight through interstate commerce. The court also found defendant's argument as to a defect in the superseding indictment was waived and meritless. Even considering the substance of the argument, the court found proof that defendant's conduct impacted interstate commerce. The court also held that defendant failed to prove his ineffective assistance of counsel claim on appeal. Defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal or in the alternative a new trial was denied.
IN RE MARSHALL RESEARCH ANIMALS, INC. 39 Agric. Dec. 359 (1980)

In this order, the court held that Respondent shall cease and desist from transporting live animals in primary enclosures which are not sufficiently large to insure that each animal contained therein has sufficient space to turn about freely in a standing position using normal body movement, to stand and sit erect, and to lie in a natural position, which spatial requirements are contained in the regulations issued pursuant to the Act. (9 CFR 3.12(c)).

Dehart v. Town of Austin 39 F.3d 718 (7th Cir. 1994)

The breeder was in the business of buying, breeding, raising, and selling of exotic and wild animals. The town passed an ordinance making it unlawful to keep certain wild animals, and the breeder filed suit challenging the constitutionality of a local ordinance.  On appeal, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the town because: (1) the ordinance was not preempted by the Animal Welfare Act; (2) the ordinance was not an impermissible attempt to regulate interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause; and (3) the town did not deprive him of his property interest in his federal and state licenses without due process.

Slavin v. US 403 F.3d 522 (8th Cir. 2005)

Plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of the Animal Welfare Act after it created a regulation that prohibited the interstate or foreign commerce transport of birds that would be used in fighting ventures.   She argued that the regulators did not consider whether fighting ventures were legal in the state where the birds were being transported to.   However, the regulation was considered constitutional since under terms of section 2156(b), only the foreign and interstate transport of the birds was prohibited.  

ZooCats, Inc. v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 417 Fed.Appx. 378(5th Cir. 2011) This petition followed a final order of the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ordering ZooCats, Inc. to cease and desist from violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), and revoking ZooCats's animal exhibitor license. ZooCats argued on appeal that the Secretary erred in extending certain filing deadlines, erred in determining certain audio tapes were inadmissible evidence, and erred in determining that ZooCats did not qualify as a “research facility” under the AWA. Addressing each of these claims, the 5th Circuit held that the Administrative Law Judge had broad discretion to manage its docket to promote judicial economy, efficiency, and to protect the interests of the parties. The Sixth Circuit further found that even if the tapes were admissible, failure to admit the tapes would be a harmless error because there was substantial evidence in the record supporting the agency's determination that ZooCats wilfully violated the AWA. Finally, the 6th Circuit held ZooCats was not a research facility under the AWA because it had not researched, tested, or experimented in the almost ten years since it registered as a research facility. The 6th Circuit therefore denied Petitioner’s petition.
IN RE: DONALD STUMBO, D/B/A STUMBO FARMS 43 Agric. Dec. 1079 (U.S.D.A.)

Imposition of $4,000 civil penalty was appropriate under 7 USCS § 2149(b) where respondent committed numerous, serious violations of Animal Welfare Act, respondent handled large number of animals, and violations continued after respondent was advised in writing of violations and given opportunity to correct them.

IN RE: MARLIN U. ZARTMAN D/B/A GILBERTSVILLE SALES STABLES. 44 Agric. Dec. 174 (1985) Secretary is authorized to promulgate standards applicable to operator of auction sale as to care, treatment, housing, feeding, watering, and sanitation of animals, since literal language of 7 USCS § 2142 and its legislative history gives Secretary broad authority to impose on auction operator standards of humane handling of all animals subject to Animal Welfare Act, and although construing word "handling" in § 2143 broad enough to include those areas would nullify significance and effect of additional terms, contemporaneous construction of Act by administrative officials charged with responsibility for achieving congressional purpose of ensuring humane care and treatment of animals indicates Secretary has authority to impose such standards on auction operators.
IN RE: JAMES AND JULIA STUEKERJUERGEN, D/B/A CORNER VIEW KENNELS. 44 Agric. Dec. 186 (1985) Dog broker shipping dogs under 8 weeks old was assessed civil penalty of $7,000 and license as dealer under Animal Welfare Act was suspended for 35 days, since broker was one of largest dog brokers in state, 8-week minimum age requirement was based on finding that ability of dogs to function in adult environment was adversely affected if shipped under that age, violations were serious and flagrant in view of large number of puppies shipped on 10 different occasions during 2-month period, and broker had violated Act and standards on prior occasion resulting in 12 day license suspension.
IN RE: ROSIA LEE ENNES 45 Agric. Dec. 540 (1986) Civil penalty of $1,000 against unlicensed dealer was appropriate under 7 USCS § 2149(b), and greater penalty could have been requested where although moderate size of kennel suggested modest penalty, selling hundreds of dogs without license over 40-month period was grave violation of Animal Welfare Act, violations were not committed in good faith since dogs were knowingly and intentionally sold without license after receiving 4 warnings, and even though dealer thought mistakenly that Department would not prosecute her for such violations and there was no history of previous violations, the hundreds of violations proven were sufficient to warrant severe sanction.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Veneman 469 F.3d 826 (9th Cir.(Cal.), 2006)

Plaintiffs, who include the Animal Legal Defense Fund ("ALDF"), the Animal Welfare Institute ("AWI"), and three individuals, challenged the United States Department of Agriculture's ("USDA") decision not to adopt a Draft Policy that would have provided guidance to zoos, research facilities, and other regulated entities in how to ensure the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates in order to comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act ("AWA"). Plaintiffs challenge the decision not to adopt the Draft Policy under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") as arbitrary and capricious. The district court did not reach the merits of plaintiffs' suit because it determined that the USDA's decision did not constitute reviewable final agency action. This court disagreed, finding that at least one of the plaintiffs has standing under Article III of the Constitution. Further, the court concluded that the district court has authority under the APA to review the USDA's decision not to adopt the Draft Policy. Opinion Vacated on Rehearing en Banc by Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Veneman , 490 F.3d 725 (9th Cir., 2007).

IN RE: ERVIN STEBANE 47 Agric. Dec. 1264 (1988) Licensed dealer who engaged in recurring pattern of trivial noncompliance with housekeeping requirements, failed to provide records on two occasions and failed to permit inspection on one occasion, is properly sanctioned with 20-day license suspension, $1500 civil penalty, and cease and desist order.
IN RE: ZOOLOGICAL CONSORTIUM OF MARYLAND, INC., AND RICHARD HAHN. 47 Agric. Dec. 1276 (1988) Exhibitor who engaged in recurring pattern of noncompliance with standards governing structural strength, food storage, ventilation, maintenance of facilities and enclosures, cleaning, housekeeping and interior building surfaces, but who made good faith effort to achieve compliance, is properly sanctioned with $1000 civil penalty, 20-day suspension, and cease and desist order.
IN RE: JAMES W. HICKEY, D/B/A S&S FARMS, AND S.S. FARMS, INC. 47 Agric. Dec. 840 (1988) Licensed dealer found guilty of numerous violations of Act involving care and housing of dogs and cats, failure to allow inspection of records, and failure to keep and maintain adequate records as to acquisition and disposition of animals, is properly penalized with 25-year suspension of license, civil penalty of $40,000, and cease and desist order.
IN RE: E. LEE COX AND BECKY COX, D/B/A PIXY PALS KENNEL 49 Agric. Dec. 115 (1990)

This is a disciplinary proceeding under the Animal Welfare Act, as amended (7 U.S.C. ss 2131- 2156). On April 20, 1989, Administrative Law Judge Edwin S. Bernstein (ALJ) issued an initial Decision and Order suspending respondents' license for 90 days, and thereafter until respondents demonstrate compliance with the Act and regulations, assessing a civil penalty of $12,000, and directing respondents to cease and desist from failing to retain possession and control of all dogs until they are at least 8 weeks of age and have been weaned, failing to hold dogs for not less than 5 business days after acquisition, failing to keep and maintain proper records, and failing to allow inspection of respondents' facility and records. Dealers and other regulated persons are required to grant access to their records during ordinary business hours, without any advance notice from Department.

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