Stop Letting Animal Abusers Get Away With Their Crimes

Target: Thomas J. Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: Demand authorities confiscate suffering animals and report abuse and neglect immediately to ensure they are saved from bad situations.

An ongoing debacle with an abusive chinchilla breeder has demonstrated openly, yet plainly, the failure of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to successfully enforce the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). For many years, the USDA had reported extensive bouts of animal suffering during routine inspections of a Minnesota chinchilla breeding facility. Chinchillas at the location—most of which were to be shipped off to labs to be experimented on—were documented with swollen, weeping eyes. Many were reportedly dead. One chinchilla, documented as thin, unresponsive, and missing part of her leg, was apparently viciously killed by having her neck broken.

Still, despite multiple AWA violations, no chinchillas were confiscated from the venue. Though a case was filed in 2018—a whopping five years after initial violations had been documented—against the breeder’s operator, Daniel Moulton, the case didn’t even appear in court until 2021. Although Moulton’s license was revoked, he was fined a measly $18,000 and was able to keep nearly 700 chinchillas until 2022, at which point they were then confiscated for further animal welfare violations.

Cases like this are not uncommon. Sign this petition to demand the USDA do more to enforce animal welfare legislation and protect animals at breeders, and other regulated institutions.


Dear Secretary Vilsack,

There are various cases demonstrating the USDA’s slow and, many times, ineffective responses to animal cruelty. One such example is that of a Minnesota chinchilla farm, which had been flagged by the USDA for years before action was ever taken. During routine inspections, USDA officials reported extreme suffering of chinchillas at the facility–animals were described as having swollen eyes and crying out. Many chinchillas were dead, per documentation, and one thin, unresponsive chinchilla who was apparently missing part of her leg was seemingly “euthanized” by having her neck snapped.

Despite documentation of violations to the Animal Welfare Act starting in 2014, the USDA failed to file a case against the breeding facility operator until 2018–allowing the chinchillas to suffer for another five years. The case didn’t appear in court until 2021 and, while the owner’s license was revoked, he was only fined $18,000 and was allowed to keep over 700 chinchillas in his care until they were eventually confiscated one year later due to further violation reports.

It took an entire 8 years to save these animals that the USDA had so blatantly seen were being neglected and abused. We are asking you, Mr. Vilsack, to confiscate suffering animals and report violations of the Animal Welfare Act immediately to ensure animal safety. It’s time animal abusers are held accountable.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Cat19y

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  • Debra Floyd
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