At the time, the owner said that due to one employee leaving, there was only the owner plus another employee to clean and maintain the facility, the report stated. The inspector ordered that there must be a sufficient number of employees to maintain appropriate standards.
In addition, the wire enclosures for the rabbits were found to be rusted and in disrepair, with 10% of them having breaks in the cage floors due to excessive rust.
An inspection from Aug. 14, 2018, likewise noted that 20% of the guinea pigs had poor, thin coats and that staff should consult an attending veterinarian on how to rectify the issue, which could include stress, parasites or nutritional deficiency.
Months prior in a report from March 15, 2018, the inspector noted that the majority of guinea pigs had chewed ear and thin coats as well as an issue with the rabbit enclosures having excessive rust.
Two reports on May 3, 2018, and Aug. 15, 2019, showed no violations and all conditions were compliant. Reports from before 2018 were not immediately available from the USDA.
Paden said that even if charges are not pressed against the facility, he hopes conditions can improve for the animals.
“Thankfully, every agency we have reached out to in situations like this agree to at least take a look into it,” Paden said. “To their credit, locals always are into knowing more about things they have been kept in the dark about. And sometimes that level of investigation follow-up motivates staff and the facility to do better, and hopefully makes things a little better for the animals.”