Letter: Reindeer aren’t meant to be downtown | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Reindeer aren’t meant to be downtown

Jennifer O’Connor
PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Virginia

Reindeer aren’t meant to be downtown

Why would the organizers of Day Out Downtown support cruelty to animals? Santa belongs downtown. Reindeer belong in the wild.

In 2012 the owner of Laughing Valley Ranch, Bill Lee, pleaded guilty to one count of cruelty to animals and failure to provide after “more than 100 animals” — including geese, dogs, llamas, rabbits, mules, horses, goats, sheep, chickens, a pony, alpacas, cats and reindeer — were seized from by the local sheriff’s office and other agencies due to apparent animal welfare concerns. Lee was initially charged with 16 class 1 misdemeanors in connection with cruelty to and neglect of animals.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has repeatedly cited Lee for failing to provide animals with veterinary care, including a 14-year-old reindeer who was having difficulty breathing. Lee did not get the ailing animal treatment, so the local sheriff’s office seized the deer. Lee also failed to provide vet care for three geriatric reindeer who were having difficulty walking, and the sheriff’s office seized an extremely underweight llama. The USDA cited Lee for failing to provide animals potable water, adequate shelter and clean cages. The list goes on and on.

Reindeer are not entirely domesticated and become stressed when hauled around and put on public display and used for photo ops. Being in close contact with noisy shoppers, bright lights and excited children is an entirely unsuitable environment for a reindeer or any animal.

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