Problems with AWA Enforcement: A Case Study
A notorious recent example is the case of the Class B dealer C.C. Baird.a For a number of years before 2003, USDA inspection reports indicated that Baird’s Martin Creek Kennels and Pat’s Pine Tree Farms operated within acceptable limits. Then a member of the organization Last Chance for Animals gained employment at Baird’s facilities and obtained over 70 hours of video surveillance of sick, dead, and dying animals with little or no protection from wet and cold, grossly unsanitary conditions, inadequate veterinary care, and multiple instances of cruelty and animal abuse. This documentation was given to the U.S. Attorney’s office, resulting in the largest multiagency (federal, state, and local) investigation of animal abuse in U.S. history. Included in the documentation was a conversation in which a buncher admitted to stealing animals that were probably people’s pets.
A documentary film “Dealing Dogs” (HBO 2006) of these events was produced by Tom Simon and Sarah Tealer for Home Box Office. The Committee became familiar with the Baird case because of its importance to recent public perspectives (including congressional action) and decline in numbers of Class B dealers.
Baird avoided imprisonment (but paid a large fine) by agreeing to testify to USDA and others in regards to multiple other ongoing Class B dealer investigations. It is important to note that despite uncovering extensive evidence of gross mismanagement and animal suffering by an undercover investigator from the animal protectionist community rather than USDA/APHIS, it still required over a year of administrative procedure and due process for the government to investigate, prosecute, and close this case, not to mention years of USDA inspection and approval of this dealer to remain in operation before the situation became public. The USDA increased its oversight of other Class B dealers by requiring more frequent inspections of dealer premises and by requiring USDA inspectors to regularly trace back the ownership of animals held by Class B dealers to verify that animals were legally obtained. These changes, together with a decrease in demand, contributed to the number of Class B dealers selling dogs and cats to research facilities from nearly 200 to 11.
its regulatory oversight of Class B dealers by implementing in October of 2008 the new USDA internal SOP, Conducting Tracebacks from Random Source B Dealers. Whereas the regulations mandate annual inspections for research facilities and Class A dealers, Class B dealers now must undergo quarterly inspections with a major focus of these inspections on the acquisition of random and non-random source animals. This increased oversight is also now more feasible with the greatly reduced number of dealers. The legality of acquisition is evaluated by conducting tracebacks on a represen-