Monday, March 02, 2009

Carole's Letter re: Vanishing Species

Dear David,

Thank you for an excellent article on Vanishing Species Wildlife, Inc.  You did an excellent job of showing what these pseudo sanctuaries and "edutainment" facilities are all about.  Your video, photos and data base of exotic owners were great additions to illustrate the problem.

We were just dealing with Barbara Harrod over the issue of a bobcat she owns that is housed in a tiny, filthy cage in Ocala, FL.  The owner at that facility, called Animal Rescue Kingdom, located at 10561 SW 67th Ct. is Diane Zandman, who has been hospitalized for the last couple of months, leaving no Class I permit holder on the property to care for a tiger and the bobcat. 

Diane said the tiger and bobcat originated at Vanishing Species Wildlife Center.  When we tried to rescue the bobcat, Diane said we had to get permission from Vanishing Species' owner, Barbara Harrod, who gave us permission, but then Diane wouldn't allow Big Cat Rescuers to take the bobcat, after telling us we could, and having us drive two hours to her facility.  We require that she give up her license to own exotic cats, and she knew this in advance, having signed the documents, but then decided she didn't want to give up her license, just to give the bobcat a better home.

You can see the horrible conditions there at this link:

http://reporter.911animalabuse.com/_Tiger-in-Shed-Bobcat-in-Box/video/533587/23072.html

When I reported the horrid conditions to the FWC, they sent an inspector, but she said she could see nothing wrong with the way the animals were housed.  No surprise there.  The FWC rarely sees any problem with what most others consider animal abuse.  A.R.K. does not have a USDA license, despite the fact that they exhibit the tiger and bobcat daily to people who come by to see them.  The FWC has not required them to post a 10,000 bond, as became law in July 2007 for those who exhibit Class I animals.  The FWC is now trying to come up with a way to circumvent that rule so that people can have tigers, lions and bears (and assorted other Class I animals) in their back yards without having to comply with the law.  More here: http://www.bigcatrescue.org/laws/2008/captivewildanimalrules.htm#rules

As you can see from excerpts of a letter I sent to my board below, these facilities are often not in compliance with USDA, the IRS, or the Dept. of Consumer Services.

Diane Zandman is a Director of Vanishing Species Wildlife, Inc., along with Jeff and Barbara Harrod.   They have big cats too and Mary (the only animal caregiver who comes any more) said Diane got her hours from Jeff.  http://vanishingspecies.net/exoticpets.htm 

The 6000 sf house on 6.5 ac that we saw today is owned by Growing Involvement for Teens, Inc. which is a non profit created 5/14/99, just in time for it to have the house deeded to it on 10/99 with no apparent mortgage recorded, so I don't know if the home was donated to the non profit, or if the non profit had a pile of cash to invest.  At any rate, one of the Directors is Barbara Harrod of Vanishing Wildlife Species and Diane's son, who we saw today, Steve Zandman.  I have been told, by Barbara Harrod that Diane retired from the police force after damage to her lungs from inhaling chemicals on the job.  Perhaps there was a lawsuit against the police force that gave her the money for the house?

I pulled the 990's for Growing Involvement for Teens and it brings in between $5,000 and $15,000 each year and spends almost all of it on animal feed.  It claims a 400,000 asset, and the house and land are tax assessed for 523,000.00, so that is probable the asset.  It says Diane is the only employee, working 40 hours a week, but says she is paid 0.  They are not claiming the fact that she has been living in the house for the past 6 years (that we know of.) 

There is no FL business, nor is there a non profit listed with Guidestar called Animal Rescue Kingdom.  There is a website for it here: http://www.animalrescuekingdom.com/html/contact_us.html There is no web site for Growing Involvement for Teens. Neither of these organizations can be found in an online search of the non profits approved in FL for solicitation at http://app1.800helpfla.com/giftgiversguide/  which means they could be fined 1000.00 a day for illegally soliciting funds.  I haven't filed a complaint against them yet, but will do so when this is over.

Until November 17, 2008 the house and land appeared to be free and clear, but they borrowed 300,000.00 from Edward J.A. Ohanrahan, Jr. with the first monthly payment of 2250.00 due Jan. 1 and a balloon for the balance is due in 2012.  So far no foreclosure appears to have been filed, but they could only be 2 months late, if at all.

The nonsense we were told about some new rescue group buying the place and only wanted to focus on farmed animals seems pretty unlikely.  There has been no sale of the property since 1999, so the same non profit who owned it then still owns it now and Diane's friends, who own big cats via Vanishing Species, and son are still the Directors of that non profit.  Since Barbara Harrod still has big cats and thus has the necessary license to keep the bobcat and the tiger at either facility, it seems the real issue here is that Diane doesn't want to bother with the cats any more and neither does her son. It is not apparent that Growing Involvement for Teens serves any purpose other than as a non profit entity to hold the house and solicit funds.  If they only raised 6000.00 last year, as their 2007 tax return said, it will only pay the mortgage for a couple of months before there is no income.  This may be why the son is moving mom out and a tenant in.

Meanwhile, Diane owns another house in the neighborhood at 10147 SW 87th Terrace Ocala, FL  and her son Steve lists that address as his home address too.  She co owns it with Jason and Stella Yates who she thanks on her Animal Rescue Kingdom web page for 5 years of service. They paid 42,500.00 for that house on 3/20/2001.  It is up for sale now with a Realtor named David Harden 352.482.1822

There is no way to know if she received any insurance from the death of her husband Marc Zandman in January of 2008.  He died of an unexpected heart attack at the age of 52 while visiting his sister in Atlanta.  He had been a cop.  There is also no way to know what her hospitalization has cost her, and if that may be why she borrowed 300k on the house.  It would be completely inappropriate to take that money for her personal use, but who would ever know given the lack of non profit oversight?  By law you cannot shut down a non profit and keep the assets.  They have to be donated to another non profit, but by borrowing all she could get out of the house and then walking away from it, she could thumb her nose at the law and count on the fact that they will not pursue such a little fish. 

Under the circumstances, I think we should insist that Diane Zandman sign a letter saying she will never own another exotic cat on her own, or with any other group.  Otherwise we are just enabling her to go out and get cubs she can use.  Mary told us today that there have been a number of cubs who were brought to them by breeders for bottle raising and picked up by "zoos."  Her website claims she has had lions, jaguars, cougars, bobcats and caracals to name just the cats.  She claims to rescue them and send them to "forever homes."  Just 3 months ago Diane was advertising tea cup poodle puppies for sale and it looked like more than half of the animals still in their care are pregnant.

None of this changes the fact that there is a bobcat in a tiny, barren, filthy, rain soaked cage and a tiger in a metal shed, on cold, wet, concrete floors, who has spent her entire six years there. 



In my discussion with Barbara Harrod, she said they had been evicted from their Palmdale location and had moved in with Jean Hatfield in Davie.  Jean was a breeder and dealer of the early 1990s who I had thought was long gone.  I last dealt with her in 1996 while rescuing two bobcats from her.  At the time she said she was getting out of the cat business, but since we did not require written contracts at the time, it appears she has continued. 

A volunteer there, said she couldn't stand to see the tiger hobbling about on feet that had sores all over her pads from being on concrete.   I think she would be happy to talk to you about the miserable conditions there too.

I will send you photos in the next email.

--
For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

http://www.BigCatRescue.org
SaveTheBigCats@gmail.com

Sign our petition to protect tigers from being farmed here:

http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/alert/?alertid=9952801&type=CU

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Davie exhibitor agrees to move big cats out, follow animal welfare rules

By David Fleshler | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    March 2, 2009

DAVIE - A wildlife exhibitor in Davie has run into trouble with federal authorities for allegedly giving animals food contaminated with blood and maggots, failing to provide veterinary care and leaving tigers unprotected from the sun and rain.

Vanishing Species Wildlife Inc. leases land on Southwest 136th Avenue to house caged cougars, tigers, a lion, a bear, tortoises and other animals used in wildlife shows at street fairs, schools, churches and summer camps.

"We want to save as many animals as possible," co-founder Jeffrey Harrod told the Sun Sentinel at a wildlife festival in 2000. "I want to educate kids to stop destroying the environment."

Here's what he told an inspector from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as he ordered him off his property, according to court papers filed by the department: "You don't know s--- about animals and I don't f------ like you."

According to an Agriculture Department complaint, the nonprofit organization:

Lied to a department official that an ill African wildcat called a serval had been taken to the veterinarian and euthanized, when actually the animal died in her cage without receiving veterinary care. The organization failed to provide veterinary care to a sick tiger, which also died. It submitted a written program of veterinary care by forging a veterinarian's signature.

Failed to provide tigers with shelter from wind, rain and sun. Did not repair broken or rusted parts of enclosures. Did not maintain an adequate perimeter fence.

Despite repeated warnings, provided animals with unpalatable food, including meat contaminated with blood, dirt, flies and maggots.

"The gravity of the violations alleged in this complaint is great," states the court document , filed in June, accusing Harrod and his wife, Barbara, of violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

In a consent order signed Feb. 4, the Harrods neither admitted nor denied the charges. They agreed to pay a fine of $3,750, refrain from using abusive language with inspectors, follow animal welfare rules and sell, donate or move out lions, tigers and other large cats from their Davie compound by July 31.

Barbara Hartman-Harrod said that none of the charges are true and that they only signed the court order to avoid a costly legal fight. She blamed complaints from "disgruntled employees" and an Agriculture Department inspector who had a "personality dispute" with her husband. She said many of the issues actually involved their property in Palmdale, Fla., not Davie.

"This has been going on for several years, and they've been harassing us and driving us crazy," she said. "We've never had an animal get loose, we've never had anyone get bitten. We treat our animals very well."

They can't exhibit full-grown big cats anymore, she said, since the laws were tightened, so now they're just trying to give them a home.

After forwarding an interview request to her husband, she said he "really didn't want to talk to a reporter."

Although the Davie site is closed to the public, she allowed a reporter to visit. Near the entrance, a lioness named Savannah sat on a dirt floor in a chain-link enclosure, with a couple of balls and stuffed animals. When Harrod approached, the lioness rubbed up against the fence and allowed herself to be stroked.

In another cage, an adult black bear named Joshua sat and stared at his visitors. In the back, huge tigers paced rapidly back and forth near the wire mesh of their cages, most of which were about the size of a living room. Harrod said the cages meet the minimum legal size standard, 10 feet by 20 feet.

Despite the scathing federal reports, inspections by the state's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found that the animals appeared healthy and that the organization complied with the law, although they did note some violations of cage and food quality standards.

Nolan Lemon, spokesman for the Agriculture Department, said none of the agency's inspectors targeted the Harrods.

"We just follow the letter of the law, and the Animal Welfare Act is quite specific in terms of standards," he said. "We want to protect the health and safety of the animals, but make sure the general public is safe as well."

Asked why the department didn't take away Vanishing Species' license, he said, "It can be very difficult to lose a license."

Richard Farinato, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States, said the department has traditionally shown great reluctance to revoke licenses.

"Every effort is made to allow the client to mend his evil ways and go on his way," he said. "But the client is not the tiger or the leopard; the client is the owner."

David Fleshler can be reached at dfleshler@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4535.

Check out the video at the link below.  It shows the tiny, cramped, barren cages and the kind of people who subject animals to that kind of existence.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/community/news/davie/sfl-flbanimals0302sbmar02,0,3984218.story

Check out the photos here:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/community/news/davie/sfl-animal-cruelty-pg,0,2528792.photogallery

See who owns these animals in South Florida here:

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/broward/sfl-exotic-animals-database%2C0%2C4531696.htmlstory?appSession=38572078972504

Carole's Note:

The tiger in a shed and the bobcat in the tiny cage at the Animal Rescue Kingdom, owned by Diane Zandman at 10561 SW 67th Ct. Ocala, FL 34476, originated at Vanishing Species Wildlife Center.  When we tried to rescue the bobcat, Diane said we had to get permission from Vanishing Species' owner, Barbara Harrod, who gave us permission, but then Diane wouldn't allow Big Cat Rescuers to take the bobcat, after telling us we could, and having us drive two hours to her facility.  We require that she give up her license to own exotic cats, and she knew this in advance, having signed the documents, but then decided she didn't want to give up her license, just to give the bobcat a better home.

You can see the horrible conditions there at this link:

http://reporter.911animalabuse.com/_Tiger-in-Shed-Bobcat-in-Box/video/533587/23072.html



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