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USDA Called to Investigate Minnesota Wolf-Fur Farm on Eve of South Dakota Hearing

The Animal Legal Defense Fund today (May 19) asked the USDA Animal Care division investigate Fur-Ever Wild (a.k.a. Wolves Woods & Wildlife) for possible violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Citing this blog’s report this morning on unsanitary conditions observed by an off-duty animal control office at the Lakeville, Minnesota fur farm, the ALDF states that Wolves Woods & Wildlife may be out of compliance with these AWA provisions:

  • 9 C.F.R. § 2.131 (c)(1), requiring that “[d]uring public exhibition, any animal must be handled so there is minimal risk of harm to the animal and to the public, with sufficient distance and/or barriers between the animal and the general viewing public so as to assure the safety of animals and the public”;
  • 9 C.F.R. § 3.125 (a), requiring that “housing facilities shall be structurally sound and shall be maintained in good repair to . . . contain the animals”;
  • 9 C.F.R. § 3.125 (b), requiring that “adequate potable water shall be available on the premises”;
  • 9 C.F.R. § 3.125 (d), requiring that “[p]rovision shall be made for the removal and disposal of animal and food wastes”;
  • 9 C.F.R. § 3.128, requiring that “[e]nclosures shall be constructed and maintained so as to provide sufficient space to allow each animal to make normal postural and social adjustments with adequate freedom of movement”;
  • 9 C.F.R. § 3.129, requiring that “food shall be wholesome, palatable, and free from contamination”;
  • 9 C.F.R. § 3.130, requiring that “[potable water] must be provided as often as necessary for the health and comfort of the animal”;
  • 9 C.F.R. § 3.131, requiring that “[e]xcreta shall be removed from primary enclosures as often as necessary to prevent contamination of the animals contained therein and to minimize disease hazards and to reduce odors” [Christopher A. Berry, Animal Legal Defense Fund; letter to Dr. Elizabeth A. Goldentyer, Eastern Regional Director, USDA-APHIS-Animal Care; “Request for Investigation of Wolves Woods & Wildlife (41-C-0215),” 2015.05.19].

The ALDF complaint also cites a May 1 Black Hills Pioneer article to support its call for the USDA to investigate Fur-Ever Wild. If the USDA finds violations of the Animal Welfare Act, it can immediately suspend Fur-Ever Wild’s license to keep animals for up to 21 days. AWA violations can incur criminal penalties of one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. The USDA can also impose a civil penalty of $1,500 per offense per day.

The South Dakota Animal Industry Board meets Wednesday, May 20 (just twelve hours from the time of this writing) to consider Fur-Ever Wild’s request for a “Captive Non-Domestic Mammal Possession Permit.” That license if the final permit Fur-Ever Wild owner Terri Petter needs to open her wolf-petting zoo in Deadwood. State veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven and the AIB may want to ask Petter whether her fur farm complies with the Animal Welfare Act and whether the wolves she wants to transport from that farm to Deadwood pose any health and safety risks to South Dakota’s people and animals.

Related Reading:

  • The USDA offers a full webpage on the Animal Welfare Act.
  • Click on the following images to read the ALDF May 19, 2015, letter to USDA Animal Care:


  1. Dana P 2015-05-20 11:04

    This is good to see. Very good.

    I drive through that part of Deadwood about twice a week. And until your post when Shari K had identified what this “outfit” was going to be, I was very curious. I had observed (about a month ago or so) a fence being erected around the outskirts of the home that is on the property – then after reading your blog, I understood the future purpose of the fenced in area.

    But, ever since the petition drive and Shari K’s fantastic efforts to bring this to the attention of others (and your efforts also, Cory!!), progress on that fence has stopped. Perhaps Terri Petter sees the writing on the wall and doesn’t want to put more money into the place. At least that is what I am hoping.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-20 17:29

    The Animal Industry Board approved Petter’s permit, but not the petting:

    The board didn’t allow opponents to air concerns about the Minnesota facility, saying that issue was outside the board’s jurisdiction (although I would argue that if Petter is bringing animals into South Dakota from an unsanitary facility in Minnesota, that falls within our regulatory scope). But state vet Dustin Oedekoven set petting wild animals is a bad idea.

  3. Dana P 2015-05-20 23:59

    hmmm, while I’m glad the “petting” wasn’t approved, it still is bad bad bad. Too bad also that the picture given of this “facility” is 17 acres. It isn’t. The legal parcel description I’m sure is 17 acres, but if I’m eyeballing it correctly, the house and useable land (where they have the home and cages inside, sits on approximately 1 to 1 1/2 acres. Maybe.

    This “facility” used to be home to the Deadwood Doghouse. It was a dog boarding and grooming place. Or another name for it would be a “doggie daycare”. The previous owner, Greg Vecchi (does that name ring a bell?) described the business when it first opened as being able to accomodate 20- 25 dogs.

    Here is the original listing for this property via Zillow. (you can get a good idea of the inside and outside of the property with the posted pictures on this listing)

    Mr Vecchi and his wife shuttered this business shortly after opening it. (Mr Vecchi owns a couple of other businesses in Deadwood – gun shop, ammo shop, and outdoor shooting range, that was approved despite outcry from surrounding property owners) Mr Vecchi is also (or at least used to be) a reserve officer for the City of Deadwood. He and his wife were involved in an accident involving a golf cart on this property in which he was injured and she was killed. It went up for sale shortly after that, where Ms Petters purchased the property.

    Mr Vecchi also recently ran for Deadwood City Commission, and even though two seats were open, he didn’t receive enough votes to win one of those seats. He did appear at the meeting in Deadwood to testify in full support of Ms Petters and her business.

    Just a little side history on the place (smile). This one will be interesting to follow, no doubt.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-21 07:48

    Thanks, Dana! When Petter’s wolf pen opens, can you send us some pictures?

  5. Dana P 2015-05-21 08:32

    You got it! I meant to take some photos last night of the “fence building project”, and it slipped my mind! I will do that tomorrow!

    For those wondering exactly where this is, it is directly across the street (Cliff Street) from the Deadwood Gulch, and right next to the Whistler’s Gulch campground.

    There is basically a “driveway” (a little wider than a single car width) to get into the place from the main drag. I don’t know how much parking is at this location, but it doesn’t appear to be able to accomodate many vehicles at one time. (this was a residence for many years prior to the Deadwood Doghouse conversion) Which means If (and that is a big IF) this place does get busy, it is going to be a traffic nightmare. People that are unable to park their vehicles at the property but want to visit this place, will have to park in the Deadwood Gulch parking lot or the convention parking lot and walk across the road. Which is already very busy and will be getting busier as tourist season increases.

  6. Barb 2015-06-01 13:36

    thous 2 disgusting low live bastards !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    teresa petter & dan storlie most be charge to max for animals cruelty’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    ! we most close this disgusting fur farm !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!and stop exploiting and killing wolf pups!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Donna Mosera 2016-10-12 15:40

    Do not let up with petitions and notices about this horrible fur farm! Bring PETA in if you can and make this a national problem that must be fixed immediately. Keep fighting and we will keep signing and get more and more folks to sign.

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