Policy

USDA Fines Family $90,000 For Selling Pet Rabbits

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Is this an illegal bunny?

Want to sell a few furry pets to friends and family? Don't let the USDA find out. The Daily Caller reports:

John and Judy Dollarhite began selling rabbit meat by the pound in 2006, and as pets to neighbors and friends in 2008.

Raised on the three-acre lot on which their home sits, the rabbits were heralded by local experts for their quality and kept in pristine condition.

When a local pet store asked them to supply their pet rabbits, the Dollarhites had no idea they would be running afoul of an obscure federal regulation that prohibits selling more than $500 worth of rabbits to a pet store without a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Under the law, pet stores are exempt from regulation.

But by selling to pet stores for resale, the humble Dollarhites became "wholesale breeders of pet animals," said Dave Sacks, a spokesman for USDA who defended the fine, even while admitting it "looks curious" to the average person.

That's especially so since the Dollarhites face no accusation they mistreated any animals. Instead, they committed what's called in regulatory parlance a "paperwork violation" under the Animal Welfare Act, a 1966 law intended to prevent the abuse of animals.

The result? The family was slapped with a $90,643 fine, apparently part of a recently implemented stepped-up enforcement program that also includes going after magicians who use rabbits in their tricks. Yes, really: Government regulators are spending public money going after magic bunnies. This is why "bureaucrats" is a dirty word.