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Carolina Biological Supply wins case against USDA, PETA
Court says evidence presented against the company was obtained illegally
by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Carolina Biological Supply Company is not guilty of embalming living
cats, according to Judge D. Baker in a North Carolina court, and the
evidence presented against the company was obtained illegally by People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The US Department of Agriculture brought the case following an undercover
investigation by PETA infiltrators. It accused the company of injecting
embalming fluid into still-living cats and of recordkeeping and
housekeeping violations based on videotapes provided by PETA. The court
found that the tapes were not reliable because they were incomplete and
unclear and were made as part of an undercover investigation by
unlicensed investigators who violated the law in the cause of their
“It is an ominous note that Judge Baker found that 'the alleged
violations of the complaint were the result of PETA's involvement,'” said
Carolina Biological attorney Kurt C. Stakeman. “The decision aptly
describes a questionable relationship between PETA and USDA that each
USDA licensee should anticipate in the event of a PETA attack.”
Dr. Peter Hand, an embalming expert, testified that the cats were dead
but were capable of postmortem reaction to chemical stimulation. Although
USDA initially listed several animal rights witnesses among its experts,
it chose to call only two veterinarians, neither of which had experience
in euthanasia by carbon monoxide. In addition, one of these witnesses had
no experience in embalming. These two witnesses did not agree which cats
on the PETA tapes they believed to still be alive when embalmed.
The court noted PETA's political motives and its agents'
misrepresentations on employment applications and confidentiality
agreements. It said that USDA was acting on behalf of PETA when it sent
an investigative team to the company, a team that did not include the
USDA agent who had been inspecting Carolina for 10 years. Furthermore,
the company had an unblemished record of compliance with USDA
requirements. Carolina corrected the recordkeeping and housekeeping
violations found in that inspection within 30 days, but USDA still filed
charges 11 months later.
The court found that Carolina's recordkeeping violations were a result of
following USDA directives and were thus inadvertent. However, although
the records had previously been inspected and accepted, they were
actually in error, the judge fined the company $2500 for the violations.
He also noted that the company was unable to rely on USDA instructions
for keeping those records.
The court found the housekeeping violations to be trivial as no evidence
of harm to any animal was presented and the breaches were corrected
Carolina was represented by Stakeman, Michael E. Ray, and Eric C. Morgan
of in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
By Norma Bennett Woolf
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