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Lazy 5 Ranch cited in PETA lawsuit against USDA

A civil suit filed Wednesday in North Carolina Eastern District court alleges the U.S. Department of Agriculture “rubber-stamps” animal welfare licenses and mentions Rowan’s Lazy 5 Ranch as an example.

The suit — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals vs U.S. Department of Agriculture — lists facilities, including Lazy 5 Ranch, across multiple states as examples of the alleged “rubber-stamp” policy. PETA argues in the filing that the USDA continues to issue animal welfare licenses despite previous violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

“The USDA hands out license renewals like Halloween candy to exhibitors who leave caged animals to suffer without veterinary care when they need it,” PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet said in an emailed statement. “PETA is calling on the government to stop rubber-stamping the applications of businesses that abuse animals and break the law.”

In the court filing, PETA uses facilities and individual people as examples, including Lazy 5 Owner Henry Hampton. Hampton also owns The Farm at Walnut Creek in Sugarcreek, Ohio. He could not be reached Wednesday for a comment on the suit.

PETA alleges Hampton maintained animals in poor conditions and failed to provide them with adequate veterinary care. The suit specifically questions a license renewal in August 2014.

“By deciding to renew Hampton’s dealer license, despite the applicant’s inability to demonstrate compliance with the act, the USDA violated the plain language of the (Animal Welfare Act),” the suit states.

Specific to the Lazy 5 Ranch, the suit states nine lemurs were held without environmental enrichment required to promote psychological well being. It mentions other violations and claims some were repeat offenses.

Other facilities mentioned in the suit include one in Mobile, Ala.; Summer Wind in Brown City, Mich.; Tri-State Zoological Park of Cumberland, Md.; All Things Wild in Chicago; White Tiger Discovery in Kaufman, Texas.

Wednesday’s lawsuit is the latest in a series of allegations against Lazy 5 by PETA. The organization has reported multiple violations at Lazy 5 Ranch during the previous decade. In 2011, the organization filed a private warrant against Hampton for animal cruelty. The warrant didn’t include a criminal investigation.

Many of the previous allegations by PETA are cited in its lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

U.S. District Court Judge James C. Dever III has been assigned to the case, according to court documents.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.




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