WAVERLY, N.Y. (WETM-TV) - An advocacy group wants the federal government to revoke the license of a Tioga County animal breeder.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now or SAEN, is a non-governmental animal rights group that filed a formal complaint against Waverly based animal breeding company Liberty Research with the USDA this week. And this isn't the first time they've pursued legal action.
In 2015 SAEN filed a complaint with the USDA after two dogs died of asphyxiation while being transported to another lab in March of 2014. One dog died in transit, the other was euthanized shortly after arrival. The company was fined over $5,200. Executive Director of SAEN Michael Budkie said that's not enough.
"Really I believe that until the USDA imposes a much more meaningful penalty literally every animal in the possession of Liberty Research is in danger," Budkie said.
In an article published by the Star Gazette in May 2015, the CEO of Liberty Research described the incident as "devastating." He goes on to say "it will never happen again." But it did, in November of that same year.
A USDA inspection report found three kittens died after they flipped over a litter box and became trapped. The report stated that the litter boxes were "lighter than usual," despite extra weight being added to them to prevent flipping.
"What this really demonstrates, both the death of the dogs and the death of these kittens, is that places like Liberty Research treat the animals that are in their possession as commodities," Budkie said.
Budkie said Liberty Research is a repeat offender. He and his colleagues are calling for USDA to revoke the company's animal breeding license. He likens it to a repeat DWI offender losing their driver's license.
"We think they should be done very much the same way with Liberty Research," Budkie said. "They have now been caught twice in situations where their negligence essentially caused animals to die."
In a statement released on Tuesday the company said:
"Liberty Organization was founded due to our love of dogs and cats. Our purpose bred animals have enabled veterinary pharmaceutical companies, universities and government research agencies to help provide healthy and happy lives to the millions of companion animals that we have living with us. All work being performed at Liberty is for the betterment of animals and is both regulated and mandated by the federal government. We constantly work to provide the highest level of care to all animals. All issues that we have experienced in the inspection process are immediately addressed by our staff and our Veterinary Services department and continue to improve our organization.
Unfortunately, there are people who do not recognize the significant strides that we continue to make to ensure our pets and all pets in the country live long, happy and healthy lives."
Budkie said it typically takes the USDA several months to investigate a complaint after it's been filed.
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