A follow-up to USDA’s Notification to Confiscate a Cavalry Group Member’s animals 3 weeks ago

Theft at the highest level


From The Calvary Group:

August 15, 2017
Dear Members,
We often choose to keep our efforts quiet to avoid drawing attention from animal rights groups which would put our Members further at risk by our grandstanding.   We always put our Members’ interests first.
Having said that, the last three weeks have been worth noting, as not only did The Cavalry Group succeed in stopping an unlawful seizure by USDA, we also had the opportunity to expose the unlawful abuse of USDA licensees by certain inspectors, Veterinary Medical Officers (VMOs), and others at USDA that has taken place over the last eight years, to key members of the Trump team at USDA.
As I outline this for you, I will be taking the liberty not to expose all the names of the individuals involved.
Important to note, our Member associated with this case has been in involved in this family business, established in 1936, all his life, and has been a USDA licensee without any issue for over 40 years.
Friday, July 21, 2017
On what was likely the hottest day of the summer, a Cavalry Group Member called the emergency number to let us know that a team of USDA VMOs and one USDA investigator had just arrived at their facility and was intending to seize 28 of his animals due to what the USDA VMO Supervisor, Heather Cole,  considered to be heat stress.
USDA had been to our Member’s farm the day before (Thursday) and had issued a ‘Notice of Intent to Confiscate’ subject to returning the next day and inspecting the temperature in his barn.  We had instructed our Member to have his veterinarian of record and his local sheriff on site for USDA’s return, and to be ready to video tape all activities.
Despite the insistence that the animals were fine and not at risk by our Member’s vet of record, the local sheriff, three officials from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and even USDA’s Investigator — the USDA VMO in charge, Heather Cole, gave the directive to confiscate 28 animals from our Member’s facility that Friday evening claiming they were “heat stressed.”  Heather Cole even urged our Member’s veterinarian to euthanize these 28 animals which he vehemently refused.
The Animal Rescue League arrived that evening to to confiscate 10 of 28 animals. The balance of the 28 were to be picked up on Monday.   It was unclear as to why USDA left the remaining 18 animals until Monday if they were in such immediate danger.
As USDA ignored our attorney, Kurtis Reeg’s attempts to interact with Heather Cole, the VMO in charge, we engaged additional legal counsel in Iowa to prepare for legal action in Federal Court on Monday. We were deeply concerned about the survival of our Member’s animals once they left his property, as our experience has been that once the animals leave the property they are either euthanized or never returned.
Over the weekend, The Cavalry Group team reached out to several members of the Trump Agriculture Advisory Committee as well as the Trump transition team at USDA in Washington, D.C. with the hope of gaining some assistance with this urgent matter.
We also discussed with our legal team our strategy for legal action on Monday in Federal Court to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the seizure of our Member’s animals.
Monday, July 24, 2017:
Very early Monday morning, we emailed Bernadette Juarez, Deputy Administrator of Animal Care at USDA-APHIS, who was directing USDA’s confiscation effort, laying out our challenge to USDA’s actions in this case as being illegal and inconsistent with the regulations under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
We received an immediate response from Ms. Juarez via email saying the following: “I’ve instructed my team to pause any additional activity at the facility until we review the matter and the concerns you have raised below.”
While this was good news, we knew that USDA would be coming back.
Subsequently, during this period of “pause,” The Cavalry Group team contacted the Animal Rescue League and informed them that they had been party to an illegal seizure, a technical term for a theft, and that they needed to return the animals to our Member’s care immediately or be subject to legal action.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017:
Tuesday afternoon, the USDA returned with a State Trooper in tow for “protection,” and they re-inspected the facilities and stood their ground on their assessment that certain animals were “heat stressed,” even though they could NOT identify the animals that they were going to seize previously.  Again, our Member’s vet of record and the local sheriff attended the inspection.   For the record, no one on site had resisted cooperating with USDA in any way, so we can only assume that the State Trooper was there purely to intimidate our Member.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017:
Although USDA still wanted to seize 18 additional animals, we had successfully convinced the Animal Rescue League to return the 10 animals that they had confiscated, and USDA was unable to find a willing party to seize and house the remaining animals.
With no third party to take the animals, the 18 animals selected for confiscation remained on our Member’s property.  Meanwhile, our team continued conversations with the Trump Team at USDA not knowing what the end result would be.  In the meantime, the Animal Rescue League returned the 10 previously confiscated animals on the morning of Wednesday, July 26, 2017.
You read that correctly. Our Member’s animals were returned to him!
Thursday, July 27, 2017:
As a result of our efforts and the assistance from the Trump team at USDA, the Secretary of Agriculture ordered the USDA’s Office of the General Counsel to fly a representative from Washington, D.C. to our Member’s facility the next day to meet with us on-site on Friday, July 28, 2017.
Friday, July 28, 2017:
Late morning on this day, our Member, The Cavalry Group team, our Member’s vet of record, and the local sheriff met with the USDA Associate General Counsel on-site, accompanied by Heather Cole, the USDA Veterinarian Medical Officer (VMO) who had made the call to confiscate and euthanize our Member’s animals.
As a result of our on-site meeting with the USDA Associate General Counsel, and a follow up conference call with the General Counsel and Associate General Counsel at USDA, the seizure order was revoked.
The conference call also gave us the opportunity to share directly with the Office of General Counsel, the 300+ affidavits that Mindy Patterson has collected from Cavalry Group members documenting evidence of USDA’s abuse of power and overreach over the last 8 years. It was apparent that this information was finally being reviewed as there were specific questions from the General Counsel regarding certain affidavits.
As a result, we hope that we have opened communication with the new leadership at USDA. We have been assured that positive changes will soon be announced that will ensure going forward that USDA-APHIS will act as more of a partner with its licensees, and will no longer be the adversary it has been during the course of the previous administration.
We want to thank our lead counsel, Kurtis Reeg, Partner with Goldberg Segalla, and other members of The Cavalry Group team for their efforts in this case; and to express our deepest gratitude to the members of the Trump team who intervened on our behalf.  We hope that this situation is the impetus to positive change at USDA-APHIS.
Our expectations are hopeful that once the remaining members of the Trump team are confirmed and appointed we will see a culture shift in the division of Animal Care at USDA-APHIS.
In the meantime, we will continue our efforts to protect our members against government agencies implementing rules and regulations inconsistent with the law; and protect against illegal search and seizure of your animals and property.
Faithfully yours,
Mark A. Patterson
CEO
The Cavalry Group
P.S.
Over the last 6+ years, we have been fighting against local, state and federal government and activist-driven legislative efforts working to take away your animal enterprise or run you out of business. The Cavalry Group team has been on the ground working to stop illegal activities instigated by animal rights groups and overreaching, unelected government bureaucrats.  The Cavalry Group is one of few voices standing up for animal enterprise and the freedom to own animals.  We have always put our Members and freedom first by not succumbing to industry pressure to compromise with those who seek your demise.
We cannot defend animal enterprise without your membership and support. All we ask is that you SIGN UP, RENEW, or DONATE! Your business may depend on it.
Thank you.
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