CHARLESTOWN, IN (WAVE) - Wildlife In Need and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have secured a first-of-its-kind agreed-upon judgment in its lawsuit against Dr. Rick L. Pelphrey, a veterinarian who was accused of illegally declawing lions and tigers at the Charlestown zoo.
This federal court order creates a precedent that declawing endangered or threatened exotic cats without medical necessity violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA). As part of this settlement, Dr. Pelphrey may no longer declaw or give any kind of veterinary care to any endangered or threatened species of big or exotic cats.
PETA notes that Dr. Pelphrey declawed approximately 12 big cats, without any pain medication, at Wildlife in Need over the past three years even though the American Veterinary Medical Association condemned declawing big and exotic cats eight years ago. Two of the 12 big cats died from complications.
PETA’s lawsuit against the owners and operators of Wildlife in Need for alleged violations of the ESA is ongoing. In February, PETA won a preliminary injunction under the act stopping Wildlife in Need from declawing big cats and from separating them prematurely from their mothers and using them in “Tiger Baby Playtime” events.