Feds ‘wrongfully’ seized beloved giraffe, East Feliciana Parish sanctuary argues
ETHEL, La. (WAFB) - Officials at Barn Hill Preserve, an animal sanctuary and tour experience based in Ethel, are opening up about a federal decision that cost the facility one of its giraffes. The company is now challenging the decision and hopes to have the giraffe returned to its custody.
The company’s leaders explained that the custody fight began when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shared concerns about the animal’s health earlier this month.
Company leaders explained that they launched an internal investigation into the matter which revealed that a veterinarian, who had treated the giraffe named Brazos for the past two years, had possibly misdiagnosed the giraffe. In a statement published Wednesday, Sept. 13, the company wrote that the veterinarian “committed medical malpractice by not treating the giraffe properly or possessing the necessary skills to treat him in the first place.”
“If they can take our animals, they can take your cows, your horses, and we believe we have just been completely disrespected and that our civil rights are not being honored,” said Gabriel Ligon CEO of Barn Hills Preserve. “The fact that our vet admitted via email that she misdiagnosed our animal and basically didn’t know what she was doing, I don’t know how we should be penalized. I think that the USDA should’ve given us more guidance and the resources.”
Company leaders claim they shared the results of their investigation with the USDA and, in response, were told to continue allowing the veterinarian to treat Brazos.
Then, on Monday, the USDA informed Barn Hill of its plans to seize Brazos, according to Barn Hill’s leaders. On Tuesday, Brazos was taken, according to company leaders.
“Despite the fact that our giraffe veterinarian specialist recommended that Brazos not be moved in his current condition, USDA decided Brazos had to be removed from the facility. He was sent to a different USDA-licensed, privately-owned zoological facility. The USDA came onto our private property without a warrant and overstepped their bounds as a government agency when taking Brazos,” Barn Hill’s leaders wrote in a statement.
Company leaders argue that the USDA has denied its Fourth Amendment rights by coming onto the property without a warrant, judgment, or ruling from a court.
The USDA released the following statement:
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