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Big Cat Rescue Charged with 26 Counts of Violating the Animal Welfare Act

Incident Date: Monday, Aug 31, 1998
County: Hillsborough
Disposition: USDA Citation

Persons of Interest:
J Don Lewis
Carole Lewis

On Sept. 10, 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture charged licensed animal dealers J. Don and Carole Lewis, doing business as Wild Life on Easy Street, Inc. in Tampa, Fla., with violations of the Animal Welfare Act. "The animal care program is designed to enforce minimum animal care standards under the law," said W. Ron DeHaven, acting deputy administrator for animal care with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a part of USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs Mission Area. Also note, after this major violation she changed the name of the company from "WILDLife on Easy Street" to "Big Cat Rescue."  Inspectors with APHIS declared, "We are charging that [Big Cat Rescue] did not even meet the minimum standards" of the Act. APHIS inspectors found that the Lewises failed to:

Big Cat Rescue had multiple violations and failures in regards to:

  1. Maintaining compatible groups of animals in the same enclosure;
  2. Handling animals in a manner that prevented physical harm;
  3. Maintaining structually sound housing facilities for dogs;
  4. Cleaning of animal water receptacles;
  5. Cleaning of the premises and keeping it free of accumulations of trash;
  6. Maintaining complete records on the premises showing the acquisition, disposition, and identification of animals;
  7. Providing a suitable method for the rapid elimination of water from outdoor housing facilities;
  8. Cleaing primary enclosures as required;
  9. Storing supplies of food in an adequate manner;
  10. Maintaining a sufficient distance or barrier between animals and the viewing public.

To read the St. Petersburg Times news article covering the initial violations, click here.

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