Written by PETA | January 13, 2017
January 13, 2017 UPDATE: Yesterday, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia ruled that UniverSoul Circus must stand trial for alleged violations of the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act. Judge Marisa Demeo found that plaintiff Melanie Sloan has legal standing to assert her claims based on her testimony that she bought tickets to the circus after reading UniverSoul’s Animal Rights Policy Statement and that she “wouldn’t have bought the tickets had I known this [statement] was a lie.”
In her ruling, Judge Demeo noted that UniverSoul Circus had presented no evidence to support its claim that it works closely with government agencies “to ensure that [its] commitment to a high standard of animal care is upheld.” She wrote, “The Court finds that a jury would not be able to find that Defendants did indeed work with such agencies as there is no indication in the record of such work.”
Commenting on the evidence, she also noted that UniverSoul Circus “concedes that Larry Carden, one of the vendors touring with the Circus when Sloan purchased her ticket, was cited for animal abuse while touring with the Circus.”
“I am very pleased that the court threw out the circus’s attempt to have this case dismissed. At trial, I will have the chance to show that UniverSoul is deliberately attempting to deceive parents like me by pretending to care about animals and yet uses exhibitors who treat them badly.”
– Melanie Sloan
Sloan’s lawyers stated that “the law entitles consumers…to truthful information, and the substantial evidence in the case shows that UniverSoul Circus has not been truthful about the neglect and mistreatment that animals exhibited in its shows have suffered.”
April 18, 2016 UPDATE: UniverSoul Circus lost its motion to dismiss a lawsuit concerning the treatment of elephants, tigers, and other animals forced to perform in its shows. According to the court, the plaintiff, a Washington, D.C., mother, provided numerous instances in which animal exhibitors have received citations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture while working with UniverSoul, demonstrating that at least some of UniverSoul’s public assertions may be misrepresentations that constitute violations of the D.C. consumer fraud law, the Consumer Protection Procedures Act.
Originally posted August 12, 2015:
On behalf of Washington, D.C., resident Melanie Sloan and others, PETA Foundation lawyers have filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of the District of Columbia against UniverSoul Circus alleging a campaign of deceit aimed at hoodwinking compassionate people, who want to do nothing of the kind, into supporting and perpetuating the abuse of animals.
A trainer hired by the UniverSoul Circus brandishes a bullhook.
A trainer hired by the UniverSoul Circus brandishes a bullhook.
The lawsuit details how Sloan—a legal and communications professional and longtime supporter of animal rights—purchased UniverSoul tickets for herself and her daughter on the basis of dishonest information on the circus’s website. But she discovered that UniverSoul used animals provided by exhibitors with long histories of federal Animal Welfare Act violations, so she and her daughter stayed home on the day of the show. She is now suing UniverSoul on behalf of anyone who bought tickets to the D.C. shows as a result of misleading information provided by the circus.
“UniverSoul knows that kind people like Ms. Sloan will not buy tickets to circuses that mistreat animals, so it deliberately promotes itself as something it is not: a champion of animal rights,” says Martina Bernstein, PETA Foundation director of litigation. “PETA is calling for UniverSoul to make good on its empty animal-welfare claims and end the use of tormented wild animals in its shows.”
Sloan stated, “As soon as I learned UniverSoul mistreats animals, I cancelled my plans to attend the circus. I can’t teach my daughter about the importance of treating animals humanely, but then take her to a show where they are abused.”
On its website, UniverSoul proclaims that none of its animal suppliers has ever been cited for animal abuse while performing with the circus, but PETA has documented that many of them have been cited by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors while on tour with UniverSoul. For example, its elephant suppliers, Jorge and Louann Barreda, have been cited for failing to maintain a program of adequate foot care for elephants. (Foot problems are one of the leading reasons why captive elephants are euthanized.) And notorious big-cat exhibitor Mitchel Kalmanson has been repeatedly cited for keeping big cats in cramped transport cages and not letting them out to stretch their legs. One citation was for confining the animals that way for 24 hours a day for at least four to seven weeks at a time. Kalmanson has also been cited for failing to provide animals with veterinary care—including for a limping tiger whose ailment, inspectors noticed, had gone “unrecognized and undiagnosed”—as well as for keeping a chain fastened around a tiger’s neck, causing risk of “injury or strangulation.”
A graphic video of men repeatedly running over a defenseless bear was posted in Russia. It shows the men going after the bear as it tried to escape through the snow, and then continuing their cruelty until they were sure it was dead. Sign this petition to demand justice for this bear.
Buster, an American Kestrel Falcon, was stolen from a wildlife rehabilitation center. Buster was on a special diet that prevented him from living in the wild and requires him to be given special care. Sign this petition to demand that the police find Buster and return him to his worried caretakers.
Oh Karma… Trophy Hunting Italian Vet Meets His Demise While Hunting Wild Birds
December 15, 2016
A veterinarian who posed next to a lion he had killed recently died after falling off a 100-foot ravine while shooting birds. For a story like this, one would probably assume that we would take some sort of almost celebratory stance in the face of a hunter facing karma, but we’re kinda not going to go there. A man is dead, lions are being hunted for trinkets and the entire thing is pretty much awful.
Luciano Ponzetto is a veterinarian who received massive backlash after posting this photo.
After posting the photo of him with the lion, Ponzetto was forced to step down as medical director of a kennel business, even though he felt he “did nothing wrong.” Sadly, this is a fallacy that many trophy hunters believe, but it doesn’t change the fact that African lions are highly endangered in the wild. According to a report in National Geographic, “Approximately 600 lions are killed every year on trophy hunts, including lions in populations that are already declining from other threats.” It is easy for trophy hunters to see their kill as “just one animal,” but that fails to recognize that these animals exist in an ecosystem. Adult male lions are the favorite of hunters because of their prowess, but males play a very important role in stabilizing the pride. Reportedly, the death of a male lion, “can lead to more lion deaths as outside males compete to take over the pride.”
Further, the practice of “canned” hunting has gained traction in the past few decades. Here, lions are bred in captivity for the sole purpose of being auctioned off to trophy hunters who gun them down within the safety of an enclosure that animals have no hope of escaping from. According to Born Free USA’s Adam Roberts, despite the fact that lions have experienced a rate of decline of 50 percent in the past three generations, the trade in lions continues to rise — from 5,418 declared exports of lion specimens from 2003-2007 to 9,400 from 2008-2013 — elevating the threat that international trade represents for the species. With this in mind, it is never okay to glorify the killing of a lion for the sake of our entertainment.
While we can definitely understand the sentiments of those who regard Ponzetto, and those like him, with fury, we don’t celebrate anyone’s death (human or animal) and see the entire situation as utterly senseless. Ponzetto passed away after falling down a 100-foot ravine while shooting birds. Yes, it might seem karma-tic, but the fact is, he should have never been in that situation in the first place. We have to ask ourselves if the “thrill of the hunt” is really worth risking your own life – while deliberately taking that of another.
Here’s a novel concept that can keep this situation from happening in the future. Let’s leave the wildlife alone. Instead of going to shoot big game, why not take a trip to simply appreciate these animals in their natural state? You can also support organizations like the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the World Wildlife Fund who are working towards conservation – without killing.
Keep Charles Manson Cult Murderer Leslie Van Houten from Early Prison Release
by Debra Tate · 144,340 supporters
Charles Manson killer Leslie Van Houten’s parole denial appeal is going to the Supreme Court
Nov 15, 2016 — Charles Manson killer Leslie Van Houten’s parole denial appeal is going to the Supreme Court for review- a decision is expected by December 30, 2016! An article can be found at- http://www.cielodrive.com Please help spread the word & share http://www.noparoleformansonfamily.com – Debra Tate (Sister of Sharon Tate)
Charles Manson Killer Leslie Van Houten’s parole appeal going to the Supreme Court
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A conservation ranger was shot dead while protecting the critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla. Demand that the perpetrators of this heinous act are found and punished harshly.
Please urge committee members to schedule a hearing for SB 1372 and pass it out of committee for a vote.
A special needs boy was allegedly set on fire and nearly burned to death by a group of bullies he thought were his friends. He is in serious condition, with burns all over his body and his organs failing. His family believes the bullies planned the attack far in advance. Sign this petition to demand justice for this innocent child.
A toddler was raped and beaten so severely that she died from her injuries. The 10-month-old girl was found naked and bleeding on her basement floor. Demand justice for this innocent girl.
The ears of two cows were cut off and tied to a gate belonging to the owner of the animals. Whoever is responsible for this horrific act of cruelty is still on the loose. Demand the perpetrator be found and given the maximum penalty.
A tortoise was set on fire in a live Facebook video, allegedly to attract views. The teenager then reportedly threatened to kill the tortoise if his views didn’t increase. Demand that justice is served for this innocent tortoise.
A Snapchat video reportedly showed a teen shooting a dead dog and shoving firecrackers into its body. He allegedly described it as ‘awesome’ and found it funny. Demand justice for this innocent dog.
A dog was reportedly found bleeding profusely after her tail had been cut off. The dog made a recovery and would be eligible for adoption, but is being held as part of a possible criminal case. Sign this petition to demand that her abuser be found and punished so she can finally go to a good home.
Two stray dogs died a painful and horrific death after they were set on fire. They were tied up in an abandoned lot and unable to escape. Demand justice for these innocent dogs.
Harrisburg, PA – The dog handler who allegedly left a K9 unit in a hot car in July, leading to the dog’s death, has been charged with cruelty to animals. State Police charged Chad Holland, 40, of Lock Haven, for leaving the K9 unit ‘Totti,’ a 2 year-old Labrador Retriever trained as a drug detection dog, in a vehicle at SCI Rockview on July 7th. Holland did not provide Totti sustenance, drink, and access to cool shelter that would have protected him against the dangerous heat which caused his death, according to the State Police report.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections also issued a release. Totti’s death was a tragedy that deeply saddened the DOC community. Secretary John Wetzel says he is committed to ensuring such a devastating event never occurs again.
Holland and his supervisor were removed from their positions with the Drug Interdiction Unit.
“We took the death of Totti very seriously and have taken a number of steps to ensure our K9s are safe no matter the weather,” said Secretary Wetzel. “These K9s are valued members of the DOC law enforcement team and we are committed to keeping them safe in our care.”
Actions taken to date are:
Change of Leadership in the Drug Interdiction Unit.
• The two individuals involved, a captain and a sergeant, were reassigned to positions at SCI Rockview.
• A senior DOC officer with military K9 experience has been assigned to lead the Drug Interdiction Unit.
A written K9 policy directive has been implemented outlining the care and handling of K9s in-vehicle, and while on-duty or off-duty
• No K9s will be left in the vehicle for any reason when the handler is not in vehicle.
• When deployed overnight the handler and K9 will stay in pet friendly hotels.
• Placards will be posted on dashboard constantly reminding the handler of K9 in vehicle.
The DOC has purchased portable kennels and every institution now has a portable kennel where the K9 will be placed on downtime. Also, each handler was issued a portable kennel in the event they are out in the community conducting work.
The DOC is in the process of tinting windows/and adding rain guards to assist in climate control for the K9s.
The DOC also is examining the purchase of extreme weather alarm equipment for K9 vehicles.
On July 7, 2016, Totti, a member of the Drug Interdiction Unit team, was left unattended in a hot vehicle for three hours. The two-year-old dog was unconscious but alive when he was discovered. First aid was rendered at the scene and he was rushed to an area veterinarian. Despite the emergency treatment, Totti died several hours later from a heat-related seizure while in veterinary care.
A dog’s throat was slit after being tortured and repeatedly stabbed. A video of the savage killing shows the dog being tied by the neck to a horse’s back, then brutally killed. Please sign this petition to bring the dog justice and demand that the accused killers are vigorously prosecuted.
Even though a mange-covered, emaciated puppy was dying when he was rescued on July 4 from a breeding farm in Pennsylvania, no animal cruelty charges were filed against the owner of the facility.
The 7-week-old Boston terrier puppy was rescued by a delivery man who saw him lying alone in a pen, lifeless, and rushed him to the Dillsburg Veterinary Center.
Jennifer Nields, a former Lancaster County humane officer, was shocked the puppy survived. “We were told (by a veterinarian) that he was hours from death,” she said. The puppy, who she named Libre (Spanish for “liberty”) since he was rescued on Independence Day, was in critical condition. He had severe mange that was rotting his maggot-infested skin, and he was starving and dehydrated.
So why wasn’t Benjamin S. Stoltzfus, the owner of the breeding farm in Quarryville, charged with animal cruelty? Because Susan Martin, director of the Lancaster SPCA, decided — based only on a single photo of the puppy — not to press charges.
At a July 12 press conference, Martin said she had been taking a sick day when she received a text message about Libre’s condition. She forwarded one photo of Libre to a staff veterinarian, who took a look at it and determined the puppy was “not in imminent danger,” Martin said.
“Unless the dog were in imminent danger, no officer could seize the dog without a warrant,” Martin said. She didn’t believe the photo sufficiently proved a warrant was necessary.
Love This? Never Miss Another Story.
The backlash to Martin’s decision was immediate. Nearly 400 people marched in protest outside the Lancaster SPCA July 17. Over 9,000 Care2 members signed a petition asking for the breeding facility owner to be charged with cruelty.
Their voices have finally been heard.
Justice for Libre
On August 11, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman held a press conference announcing that his office has filed a petition calling for the suspension of Martin’s appointment as a humane society police officer for the Lancaster County SPCA. According to the petition, Martin has conducted her authority to enforce animal cruelty laws in a “substandard” fashion.
Stedman also announced that the Pennsylvania State Police have charged Stoltzfus with a summary count of cruelty to animals for failure to provide Libre with adequate veterinary care. Stoltzfus was fined about $905.
Stoltzfus admitted to police he had abandoned the puppy in the pen, intentionally leaving him to die there. Unfortunately, because of Pennsylvania’s weak animal cruelty laws – it’s one of only three U.S. states that doesn’t have a felony level for these heinous crimes – Stoltzfus will likely only have to pay the fine, despite the fact that he callously left that scared, sick little puppy all alone with no food or water, knowing full well he would suffer a slow, agonizing death.
‘Libre’s Law’ for Tougher Animal Cruelty Penalties
Inspired by Libre’s case, Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Alloway plans to introduce “Libre’s Law,” which would increase the penalties for those who abuse or neglect animals in the state.
“You just don’t treat these pets like this,” he said. “It’s not a sport, a sporting game that you would hunt, it’s not a food source. These are our pets.”
At his press conference, District Attorney Stedman also promised to make “sweeping changes in the way animal cruelty will be policed and prosecuted in the county,” beginning immediately.
Libre’s Miracle Recovery
The best news is the truly amazing recovery made by Libre, thanks to round-the-clock care. The healthy puppy is barely recognizable from a shocking photo taken just a few weeks ago (in which he definitely appears to be in “imminent danger,” despite whatever Miller saw).
Libre is now enjoying plenty of love and attention in his new forever home. He’s been adopted by Janine Guido of Speranza Animal Rescue. You can keep up with this lucky puppy’s new adventures on the rescue’s Facebook page.
As for Stoltzfus, here’s hoping there’s no happily ever after for him. Instead of paying a fine, he should be abandoned all alone — in a prison cell.
A federal judge on Wednesday granted John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, “full-time covalescent leave” from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. The order allows Hinckley, Jr. to live full-time in Williamsburg, Virginia, but still under certain restrictions.
Here’s a look at the life of John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity:
Personal: Birth date: May 29, 1955
Birth place: Ardmore, Oklahoma
Birth name: John Warnock Hinckley Jr.
Father: John W. Hinckley Sr., an oil exploration business owner
Mother: Jo Ann (Moore) Hinckley
Education: Attended Texas Tech University for seven years
Other Facts: Stalked actress Jodie Foster for a time and says he was trying to impress her with the Reagan assassination attempt. He says he became obsessed with her after seeing her in the movie “Taxi Driver,” in which the main character tries to assassinate a U.S. senator.
Whenever he leaves the hospital, Hinckley carries a GPS-equipped cell phone and is sometimes followed by Secret Service agents.
Timeline: October 9, 1980 – Hinckley is arrested at Nashville International Airport for possession of three firearms. President Jimmy Carter is in town that same day.
March 30, 1981 – At 2:25 pm EST, President Ronald Reagan comes out of the Hilton Hotel in Washington. Hinckley is waiting for him in the crowd and begins shooting. One bullet hits Reagan in his left lung. Also injured are Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy and Washington police officer Thomas K. Delahanty. Brady is shot in the head and partially paralyzed. Hinckley is handcuffed moments after firing six shots at Reagan from almost point-blank range.
March 31, 1981 – The federal government formally charges Hinckley with attempting to assassinate the president and assaulting a Secret Service officer.
May 27, 1981 – Takes a Tylenol overdose in an attempt to harm himself.
August 28, 1981 – At his arraignment, Hinckley pleads not guilty by reason of insanity to a 13-count indictment.
November 15, 1981 – Hinckley tries to commit suicide a second time by hanging himself with an article of clothing.
May 4, 1982 – Trial begins.
June 21, 1982 – Hinckley is found not guilty by reason of insanity. He is committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington.
February 13, 1983 – Hinckley makes a third suicide attempt since the shooting, this time by an overdose of antidepressant medication.
1985 – Hinckley’s parents establish a non-profit organization called the American Mental Health Fund, to raise money for mental health research.
1985 – Hinckley’s doctors report his condition to be in “full remission.”
1986 – Hinckley makes a brief, supervised visit to his see parents.
January 15, 1999 – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Washington rules that Hinckley can make supervised trips out of the hospital, accompanied by hospital personnel.
August 12, 1999 – Hinckley makes a brief, supervised visit outside of the hospital.
April 11, 2000 – Representatives at St. Elizabeths Hospital recommend allowing Hinckley unsupervised visits with family.
June 29, 2000 – The hospital withdraws its recommendation for unsupervised visits to Hinckley’s parents’ Williamsburg, Virginia, home following a hearing in which prosecutors provide evidence of Hinckley’s continued interest in violent books and music.
December 17, 2003 – A judge rules that Hinckley will be allowed limited, unsupervised daytime visits with his parents within a 50-mile radius of Washington.
December 30, 2005 – U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman rules that Hinckley will be allowed three visits of three nights each to his parents’ home in Williamsburg, Virginia, unaccompanied by hospital staff. Hinckley “is not permitted to leave one or both parents’ supervision at any time.”
April 16, 2007 – A hearing begins on whether to increase the length of Hinckley’s visits to his parents to two and four weeks at a time.
June 2007 – A judge rules that Hinckley may make six-night visits to his parent’s home in Virginia, but longer visits are denied until the hospital submits a more detailed proposal of Hinckley’s schedule.
February 2008 – Hinckley is allowed to attend his father’s funeral in Williamsburg, Virginia.
June 2009 – Judge Friedman increases the length of Hinckley’s visits home to 10 days 12 times per year. Hinckley is also authorized to obtain a driver’s license. The judge agrees he is not a danger to himself or others under the proper conditions.
May 2011 – Judge Friedman approves Hinckley’s request for additional unsupervised visits to his mother’s home in Virginia.
July 29, 2011 – St. Elizabeths Hospital asks the court to allow Hinckley two 17-day visits followed by six stays lasting 24 days. After the proposed visits, St. Elizabeths requests the authority to decide whether Hinckley could be released on “convalescent leave,” which would make him a permanent outpatient.
September 30, 2011 – The government files a motion in opposition of the hospital’s request for expanded conditions of Hinckley’s release.
November 30, 2011 – A hearing begins which may determine whether to eventually free Hinckley from a mental hospital.
February 9, 2012 – Hinckley’s hearing on expanded visitations and possible eventual release ends.
August 17, 2012 – Prosecutors on the Hinckley case file a motion asking Judge Paul Friedman to reject the proposal for more visitation time because People’s Place treatment facility had dropped out of a plan calling for Hinckley to participate in social group sessions.
February 25-28, 2013 – A hearing on St. Elizabeths Hospital’s request for Hinckley’s expanded visits and possible eventual release is held. The hospital proposes Hinckley attend social group sessions with a psychotherapist and see another specialist in lieu of the group sessions at People’s Place mental health facility that were withdrawn in August 2012.
December 20, 2013 – A federal judge agrees to let Hinckley have expanded conditional release from a Washington psychiatric hospital, where he currently has been detained. Judge Paul Friedman said Hinckley is allowed 17-day periods of off-campus visits to his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia—up from the current 10-day visits.
August 4, 2014 – Former Reagan Press Secretary James Brady dies at the age of 73.
August 8, 2014 – A Virginia medical examiner rules Brady’s death a homicide. Police tell CNN that authorities are investigating the death.
January 2, 2015 – The United States Attorney for the District of Columbia releases a statement that they will not pursue murder charges against Hinckley for the death of James Brady.
April 22, 2015 – John Hinckley Jr. makes a request in federal court for what his family calls his “unconditional release” from the mental facility at which he’s been living for the past three decades. If granted, he will live with his mother full time in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Zephyr the service dog was struck by a hit-and-run driver who reportedly sped through a red light, slowed down and then plowed straight into him. The dog provides comfort and security to his owner, who suffers from PTSD, and this incident has left the owner devastated. Demand justice for Zephyr.