PETA files lawsuit against USDA, references Lazy 5 Ranch
By Andie Foley
PETA has once again filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture with references to Lazy 5 Ranch owner Henry Hampton.
The suit, filed on May 15, challenged the agency’s automatic renewal of federal licenses for agencies with a history of noncompliance with the Animal Welfare Act.
According to the USDA’s website, entities that exhibit animals to the public must be in compliance of the act, which provides standards and regulations for the humane care and treatment of animals.
The 40-page complaint filed by the animal welfare group referenced two ‘roadside zoos’ owned by Hampton as places of repeat offenses: Lazy 5 in Mooresville and the Farm at Walnut Creek in Ohio.
Both facilities allow attendees to feed and interact with animals on display.
PETA’s lawsuit outlined various alleged animal welfare violations at both zoos.
Other operations in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland and Texas, each under different ownership, were implicated in the complaint as well.
Hampton’s operations were implicated in a 2015 suit of the same nature.
In the current suit, PETA decried the use of succinylcholine as a tranquilizer at Lazy 5 without requiring the use of anesthetics and monitoring.
The drug, said agency representative David Perle in a news release, can cause respiratory paralysis, leading animals to suffocate while fully conscious.
PETA officials also said USDA inspectors cited Hampton for animals in need of veterinary care, including some that were limping or had recent wounds or who did not have adequate shelter.
Other animal welfare violations referenced in the lawsuit included a giraffe with “overgrown, misshapen rear inside claws,” and a lamb that was reluctant to move and had evidence of diarrhea soiling on its rear legs.
PETA alleges that these and other citations directly contradict the USDA’s requirements for animal exhibition.
“When the USDA renewed these licenses, the agency had ample evidence that … these applicants chronically subject animals to inhumane care and treatment,” the compliant read. “… As such, the USDA’s decisions to renew the … (licenses) are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion (and) not in accordance with the law.”
The animal welfare group is seeking the implicated operations be stripped of their licenses. It also desires that the USDA stop granting license renewals to agencies with these and other known and allegedly repeat violations.
“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.”
The Post was unable to obtain comment from Hampton or workers at Lazy 5 Ranch despite multiple attempts.