Firm loses permit to display animals

Aug. 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM
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DAVIE, Fla., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- A Florida company that exhibits tigers and cougars at fairs, schools and summer camps has lost its license for violating animal welfare rules, officials say.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked the license of Vanishing Species Wildlife Inc., saying it neglected to provide the animals with adequate food, shelter and veterinary care, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said Monday.

The company was ordered to release all its big cats to other animal welfare organizations in 2009, but failed to do so, causing its permit to be revoked earlier this month, the report said.

In an Aug. 5 revocation order, USDA Chief Administrative Law Judge Peter Davenport said the company and its directors were "unfit" as caretakers.

Neither Barbara Hartman-Harrod nor Jeffrey Harrod responded to requests for an interview, but their attorney, Ellis Peetluk, said they have worked hard to comply with the USDA order, the report said.

He said they had reduced the number of big cats from 13 to two, and had "made continuing efforts to find humane placement for the remaining big cats, but due to their age and health requirements, placement has been extremely difficult."

The USDA started investigating the company in 2007, and found food contaminated with maggots, tigers without shelter from rain and sun and noted the disappearance of several animals without the required documentation showing to whom they were given or sold, the report said.

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