Dollarhites: A Saga that should End
I did hear back from the USDA regarding my FOIA request related to the Dollarhite rabbit mill case.
Since the case is still not finished, they can't release any of the investigative material. All 120 pages of it. Yeah, that tells me there's a lot more going on then has been claimed by various fact challenged Tea Party types.
What they could send me is a copy of the letter sent to the Dollarhites in 2006 (PDF) with information about becoming licensed breeders. And screenshots of the Dollarhite web site showing that the Dollarhites were selling rabbits early in 2006 (not in 2008, as they claimed).
What blows my mind is the fact that this case isn't closed. The USDA is letting the Dollarhites off without a fine. They wouldn't have had to pay one single penny. The Dollarhites sold rabbits as pets to dealers for at least two years, in violation of long established USDA laws, but the USDA was willing to forgo a fine. Yet the Dollarhites just can't seem to let it go.
I linked the USDA letter that offered to dismiss any financial fines as long as the Dollarhites refrained from breeding animals, or owning any animals that can be bred and that are covered under the Animal Welfare Act. They can have pets, but the pets either have to be the type of critter that isn't covered under the Animal Welfare Act (birds, fish, and reptiles), or has been spayed or neutered (cats, dogs, bunnies, horses, etc.). They can have livestock, as long as the livestock isn't used for purposes covered under AWA.
This is not an unreasonable request to make of people who ignored the laws for at least two years, and sold several hundred rabbits to a commercial petting zoo and Petland.
Yet the Dollarhites are now spinning a tale that they can't have any animals. None, zip.
They said a few weeks back that their lawyer was preparing a response. Now they say he isn't and they're looking for another one. I am sure that all the attention they're getting from the factually challenged Tea Party types has nothing to do with the fact that they haven't yet responded to the letter.
If the Dollarhites don't respond by July 29th, it will end up in court. They'll basically have lost their chance to get off without a fine.
The USDA informed me I could re-submit a request for the additional 120 pages of information once this case is closed. However, I have a 100 new kennel campaigns I want to start in the next month, and am not sure I want to continue to waste time with this issue. I would like to continue with a defense of the USDA—I feel they were grossly maligned with this incident—but there's a tawdry aspect to all of this that is making me lose interest.
It's not as if the Tea Party types will admit their errors, or do any fact checking. Evidently, tea and facts don't go together well.
If I do make a later request and get any more information, I'll post it here. If someone else wants to access the records and send them to me, I'll post them here. Otherwise, it's time to get back to the puppy mills.