Justice has been served to Buck and the thousands of ill-fated dogs and cats who passed through Class B dealer C.C. Baird's hands. The owner of Martin Creek Kennels in Williford, Ark. has surrendered his license to operate as a dealer to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of a plea agreement reached with the agency. He paid more than a quarter of a million dollars in civil penalties—the highest fine ever incurred under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). During Baird's five year probation period, he will be fined an additional $250,000 if caught dealing without a license.
He is charged with hundreds of violations of the AWA (see Fall 2003 and Summer 2004 AWI Quarterlies) and was scheduled for a hearing before an administrative law judge on January 24th.
At the last minute, however, Baird opted to cut a deal with the USDA instead.
The agency brokered a side agreement to obtain all of the animals housed at Martin Creek, approximately 100 dogs and 180 cats. We are coordinating with the USDA and the Washington Animal Rescue League of DC to find permanent homes for as many animals as possible. The League is traveling to Arkansas to bring back vanloads of dogs and cats from Baird's premises. Following veterinary treatment, these animals will be available for adoption.
This is a huge step in the right direction, but bear in mind that Baird flouted the law for over a decade. Countless illegally acquired animals were sold and killed following experimentation. Since government workers raided Baird's property and seized over 100 animals in August 2003, he has earned at least a quarter of a million dollars from animal sales—easily an equal sum to the fine he just paid.
We cannot rest on our laurels until every animal dealer supplying "randomly acquired" dogs and cats to research facilities is put out of business. For more information on how to adopt a rescued dog or cat, please contact AWI.