Friday, December 7, 2012

Hemingway House Now an "Animal Exhibitor" Subject to USDA Regulation!


Listen, I know there are a bunch of cats on the grounds, but seriously?
Appellant 907 Whitehead Street, Inc., d/b/a Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (“the Museum”), appeals the district court’s post-trial order denying the Museum declaratory and injunctive relief. The Museum challenges the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (collectively the “USDA”) to regulate the Museum as an animal exhibitor under the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”), 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq. The district court concluded that the Museum is indeed subject to the USDA’s regulatory reach pursuant to the AWA. After considering the parties’ arguments and having the benefit of oral argument, we agree with the district court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law and hold that the Museum is an AWA animal exhibitor subject to USDA regulation.
Here's an example of the findings relied on by the district court and affirmed by the 11th:
The Museum has always kept, fed, and provided weekly veterinary care for the Hemingway cats. The cats live and roam freely on the grounds that are enclosed by a brick fence at the property’s perimeter. To prevent population beyond the historical norm of 50–60 cats, the majority of the cats are spayed or neutered so that only a couple of cats of each sex are reproductive. At the time of the district court’s bench trial, the Museum had 44 Hemingway cats.

No Hemingway cat has ever been bought or sold, although some cats have been given away at various times.2 However, the Museum charges admission for a tour of the property, and the tour includes seeing and discussing the roaming Hemingway cats.
Ok, thank God I don't charge admission to my house, or else the dogs and hamster would definitely subject me to USDA regulation.

I like the final "hold-your-nose" disclaimer at the end of the opinion:
Notwithstanding our holding, we appreciate the Museum’s somewhat unique situation, and we sympathize with its frustration. Nevertheless, it is not the court’s role to evaluate the wisdom of federal regulations implemented according to the powers constitutionally vested in Congress.
Indeed.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

the usda got involved because a tourist complained about the cats? federal agencies would get more traction wading into bahama village...a few hundred feet from the hemingway house for real inbred animals.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to send my cat there. A miserable flea bag of a worthless lump of fur. Plots against me constantly and annoys me to no end.