Formal Complaint

7/18/2016

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant
Tippah County Board of Supervisors
County Attorney Bart M. Adams
Senator Angela Hill
Mark Keyl Animal Advocacy Initiative of Mississippi
HSUS MS
USDA

Dear Sir or Madam

Rabbit scrambles, in which rabbits are injured and may die from the mishandling of young children let loose upon them in a hysterical mob, must end. Once captured the rabbits are, for the most part, held by their ears. The tiny muscles holding the ear to the head are designed to help move the ears in multiple directions, not to bear the weight of the rabbit. This holding technique is doubtless painful for the helpless rabbit, and is likely to result in tearing of those muscles. Some rabbits are grabbed, and even carried, by a hind limb, which can easily result in fracture of the spine or limb. Another technique is to grab the rabbit by the skin of its back. This results in tearing of the muscles holding the skin to the body and is doubtless very painful. The children at rabbit scrambles are encouraged to commit animal abuse and are learning that cruelty to animals is not only acceptable, it is “fun” and desirable. They deliberately and willfully cause fear, pain, and bodily harm to the rabbits…but they’re little kids. It’s the adults who bring them who are responsible.

All adults bringing a child to a rabbit scramble should be charged with animal abuse and whatever law applies in their state for encouraging children to commit crimes. Also, the organizations that sponsor rabbit scrambles should be charged with animal abuse..

Finally, in watching videos of rabbit scrambles it is apparent that some of the children do not want to participate…they are crying and resisting chasing after the rabbits. Instead of allowing the children to not participate, the parents push them into the melee anyway, doubtless causing psychological harm to the children. This will especially be the case for children who did not want to participate and who eventually, with the help of their parents, catch a rabbit who subsequently dies of its injuries.

I hope you will address this matter with the serious attention it needs. It is not a joke. It is willful, deliberate animal cruelty.

Sincerely,

Sharon L. Crowell-Davis DVM, PhD, DACVB
Professor of Behavioral Medicine
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Georgia
Athens, Ga 30602
scrowell@uga.edu
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COMPLAINT

1. Linda Sue files this complaint along with 40,636 Petitioners alleging the Tippah County Fair is in violation of state animal cruelty laws. Attached please find the expert opinion of Sharon L. Crowell-Davis DVM, PhD, DACVB regarding animal cruelty at the Tippah County Fair Rabbit Scrambles.

2. As set forth below;
Mississippi does not provide any exemptions to their animal cruelty laws which cover torturing and unjustifiably injuring Any Living Creature.

Title 97. Crimes. Chapter 41. Cruelty to Animals.

§ 97-41-5. Carrying in a cruel manner
If any person shall carry, or cause to be carried by hand or in or upon any vehicle or other conveyance, any creature other than a dog or cat in a cruel or inhuman manner, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

§ 97-41-1. Cruelty to living creatures
Except as otherwise provided in Section 97-41-16 for a dog or cat, if any person shall intentionally or with criminal negligence override, overdrive, overload, torture, torment, unjustifiably injure, deprive of necessary sustenance, food, or drink; or cruelly beat or needlessly mutilate; or cause or procure to be overridden, overdriven, overloaded, tortured, unjustifiably injured, tormented, or deprived of necessary sustenance, food or drink; or to be cruelly beaten or needlessly mutilated or killed, any living creature, every such offender shall, for every offense, be guilty of a misdemeanor.

§ 97-41-15. Maliciously injuring livestock
(1) Any person who shall maliciously, either out of a spirit of revenge or wanton cruelty, or who shall mischievously kill, maim or wound, or injure any livestock, or cause any person to do the same, shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction, shall be committed to the custody of the State Department of Corrections for not less than twelve (12) months nor more than five years, and fined an amount not less than One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500.00), nor more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00).
(2) In addition to any such fine or imprisonment which may be imposed, the court shall order that restitution be made to the owner of any animal listed in subsection (1) of this section. The measure for restitution in money shall be the current replacement value of such loss and/or the actual veterinarian fees, special supplies, loss of income and other costs incurred as a result of actions in violation of subsection (1) of this section.
(3) For purposes of this section, the term “livestock” shall mean horses, cattle, swine, sheep and other domestic animals produced for profit.

3. Factual Allegations of videos and photos
Every August the Tippah County (Mississippi) Fair provides a cruel event called the Rabbit Scramble where organizers release baby and young rabbits into a dirt arena encouraging small children 2-5 yrs old to chase them while catching them in any manor they can without any regard for the animals welfare. Despite the animal scramble schedule not being made public this year, when calling the fair they stated the events are being held on August 11, 2016 at the coliseum.

I:19 minutes into this 2014 video you can see a rabbit to the left of the screen frantically kicking and flailing being dropped and picked up then ran with being dangled by the ears still struggling, you see more rabbits kicking and flailing from fear while being painfully dangled by their ears by children running and screaming, rabbits fighting for their life.
You can see another violently being dropped resulting in a state of shock unable to move (most likely a result of the back being broken or spine injured).
While grown adults do nothing smiling, encouraging and praising this behavior being taught to them. Teaching kids to commit animal abuse and cruelty is not acceptable and the adults should be charged for these heinous acts. 3 more videos just as disturbing can be viewed here.

4. Professional References
Rabbits have fragile bones that break easily, being prey animals – being chased is one of the worst things you could do to them, not only do they have to survive being chased while literally running for their lives, they are improperly handled, pulled on, accidentally stepped on, being flailed around by their ears or scruffed by the skin of their back, all resulting in terrifying fear and pain.
Chasing them will be very stressful and fearful for rabbits and any animal. It leads to the excretion of stress hormones, catecholamine and corticosteroids. This hormone will increase the heart rate and can lead to sudden death of the rabbit.

Carrying a rabbit by the ears damages the cartilage that supports the ears, and, because the body is suspended without support, can easily fracture the rabbit’s spine, leading to paralysis. Scruffing, is another dangerous practice, especially without supporting the rabbit’s back, as it can also fracture the rabbit’s spine when the rabbit kicks”. When you lift a rabbit by the scruff, the skin is torn loose from the muscle tissue.

5. Conclusion
According to News articles, the Tippah County Fair Rabbit Scrambles have been going on since the year 2000. This event is willful, intentional animal cruelty being taught by the adults running this fair and by the children’s parents. The Tippah Co Fair starts Aug 5, 2016 and to date, there has been no press release, response or statement given by the Fair or Authority from the County that this barbaric cruel event has been cancelled.

In the Fair photos you see rabbits with budging eyes which is a symptom of fear or pain – a rabbit being hung by its throat. Some of the rabbits have distended abdomen’s which may be signs of – pregnant young rabbits, which worsens this cruelty to yet another level. Frightened rabbits kick, bite and scratch out of fear which can also result in children being injured.

It is unknown how many rabbits have suffered trauma, injuries, broken backs or died from fear with heart attacks as a result of these barbaric torturous events however, to any knowledgeable rabbit person there is no doubt these rabbits have suffered severe injuries or death from this unspeakably cruel event where there can be few survivors. If they do survive it will not be for long because the stress will cause illness or the injuries death.

Sadly the rabbits bred for these events usually live in squalor before being used or sold as toys or prizes for children, as you can see the yellow urine stained feet of the white bunnies. After the rabbits are caught, they are given to the child who caught them as prizes; many families do not want the responsibility of an unplanned pet/living animal which results in further abuse of dumping, neglect or worse.

We the 40,636 petitioners respectfully ask Tippah County to honor the Mississippi Animal Cruelty Laws and end this cruel Rabbit Scramble Event immediately as well as all Rabbit Scrambles in the state of Mississippi while finding resources that promote psychological well- being of children instead of teaching them disrespect and torture of animal life. We also ask that animal abuse charges be filed against the Tippah County Fair organizers and promoters of the Rabbit Scramble and additionally the adults who taught, encouraged and practiced this barbaric cruel event since the year 2000.

“House Rabbit Society also respectfully requests that the Tippah County Fair end this cruel practice”
http://rabbit.org/tippah-county-rabbit-scramble/

27 states have laws that ban giving away rabbits as prizes and animal cruelty is a felony in all 50 states.

References
Tippah 2015 TIPPAH CO FAIR RABBIT SCRAMBLE

Tippah 2013 TIPPAH CO FAIR RABBIT SCRAMBLE

1. http://aldf.org/blog/50-states-now-have-felony-animal-cruelty-provisions/

2. http://djournal.com/news/hedtippah-county-fair-set-for-july-29-august-5/

3. https://www.animallaw.info/statute/ms-cruelty-consolidated-cruelty-statutes

4. http://www.msspan.org/97-41-1_cruelty_to_living_creatures

5. https://www.change.org/p/mississippi-governor-please-stop-the-tippah-county-ms-fair-rabbit-scramble

6. http://www.rabbit.org/journal/5-2/scruffing.html

7. CD with attachments of links, videos, petition signatures and comments.

Respectfully,

For The Rabbits
Linda Sue

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