This morning, PETA fired off a letter to Jerry Fitzgerald, chair of the Nebraska State Fair, urging him to ensure that all animal exhibitors who are invited to the fair will be in full compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In the letter, PETA points out that its offices are inundated every year with complaints that exhibitors at fairs and festivals across the country have abused animals or endangered the public. PETA explains that although animal exhibitors are required to be licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a license is no guarantee that exhibitors will provide adequate animal care or follow public safety measures. The group also points out that many exhibitors fail to comply with the minimal federal standards established in the AWA.
PETA is asking Fitzgerald to implement the following guidelines:
* An exhibitor will be ineligible to appear at the fair if he or she has been cited by the USDA within the past three years for inadequate veterinary care, improper and/or dangerous animal handling, or failure to provide adequate food, water, shelter, or space.
* An exhibitor who is traveling with primates must provide proof that each animal has tested negative within the past year for tuberculosis and herpes–both of which can be transmitted to humans.
* All exhibitors must provide a written plan for the safe recapture of escaped animals.
* All exhibitors must disclose all past incidents in which any of the animals who will appear at the fair potentially endangered the public.
“We’d prefer it if Mr. Fitzgerald banned all live-animal exhibits from the fair, but at the very least he should adopt strict guidelines–for the sake of animals and people,” says PETA Director Debbie Leahy. “Almost without exception, the exhibitors who frequent fairs and festivals have abysmal records when it comes to providing animal care and protecting the public.”