This is Sandy's story on how
this all started
My name is Sandy Reynolds. I have been
breeding and selling animals for the last 15 yrs. The name of my business
is Plantation Delight. 10 yrs ago I started with my first exotics-sugar
gliders. I called every regulatory agency that I could find. I got the
same answer- Sugar gliders are a pocket pet we don’t regulate them. The Pa
Game Commission stated, “We only deal with animals indigenous to Pa.”.
Two years later USDA changed their mind
and I became licensed as an Exotic Animal breeder. In the last 6 years I
added African Servals, Fennec Fox, Ringtail Lemurs, Kinkajous, Genets and
a Dama Wallaby. I also obtained both a Kennel license and a Dealers and
Haulers license through the Pa Dept of Agriculture. I thought I had
covered by bases until 2 years ago someone told me that I needed a license
from the Pa Game Commission. No Problem, I said and I called the Pa Game
Commission. I have had two years of hell.
I called the Pa Game Commission in July
6, 2001. Told them what I had and they threw a fit. Told me not to buy
anything else and they would send someone out to see me. The local Game
Officer came to my home on August 8, 2001. I shared all my USDA records
with him and told him about all my animals. I wanted to do everything
legally and I thought I had nothing to hide. On August 30, 2001 the Game
Officer returned. He told me I broke all kinds of laws and they could fine
me thousands and thousands of dollar. But they were going to be nice and
let me keep my Servals, Fennecs and Sugar Gliders and give me an Exotic
Breeders license. He said I had to get rid of my Lemurs, Kinkajous, Genets
and my Wallaby- out of state. I asked why I was allowed to have some
animals and not others. He told me some of my animals were exotic and the
others were not. He said, “the license covers lions, tigers, and bear-Oh
my”. I asked for him to put this deal in writing and to give me a copy of
Nov. 24, 2001- 7 pm. The Game Officer
arrived with an application for an Exotic Breeders License, a permit to
get rid of my animals-out of state. And one paragraph about the law. I
again said I was confused about why I could keep certain animals and not
the others. He said that I could not keep anything that I brought into the
state illegally. I told him that my Lemurs and my genets were both
purchased in Pa from a licensed breeder. He said he wasn’t sure about that
breeder and he would have to check into it and get back to me. I again
asked for him to put into writing what I needed to do and a copy of the
law. The following week I sent him my completed application-listing all my
animals, the fee, and a letter again requesting that it be put in writing.
I did not see him(Game Officer) again
until May 16, 2002. He gave me back my application. He said he could not
process it because I did not give him a letter from my township saying it
was okay. My husband asked him “where on the application does it say you
need a letter from the township”. He replied “it doesn’t-that is an old
application”. He claimed he had told me that I needed that letter. At that
point I was so frustrated that I said that I wanted to record out
conversations to be sure I understood all his instructions. He became very
upset and said it was illegal to tape him and he would not give
permission. He then threatened to get a warrant and confiscate my animals.
I said good -then I could go before a judge who would surely know the laws
that he didn’t seem to know.
After this meeting I contacted my local
State Representative and asked for his assistance. He did some calling and
got nowhere and was just as confused as I was. He offered to meet with the
game officer and myself in order to get this straightened out.
June 15, 2002. Game Officer again showed
up with another Officer. Said he wanted to resolve this before the end of
the fiscal year- in two weeks. I told him that my state representative
agreed to meet with us and I was not going to meet with him alone.
My state representative tried numerous
times to reach the game officer to set up a meeting and he did not return
the phone calls.
Aug 2002. I just wanted things resolved.
I was tired of not knowing what was going on and fearful that my animals
were in danger so I e-mailed the Governor and asked for clarification
regarding the laws regulating animals in Pa. There are two conflicting
laws in Pa. Act 100 of 1996 states that any animal in captivity is a
domestic animal. And then there is Title 34- Game Codes that are very
ambiguous. Well, that didn’t work. The governor turned over my e-mail to
the Game Commission who were clearly pissed that I e-mailed the governor.
I received a nasty letter from the Head of compliance (Pa Game
Commission). Told me that they have been more than patient with me and by
now I should know the laws and have broken many. I forwarded the letter to
my State Rep. He called and was told that the Pa Game Commission had filed
a complaint with the DA’s office and that I had received a letter saying I
had 30 days to comply. I had never received any letter so I hired a
lawyer. My lawyer called the DA. They had never heard of me. So they lied
to my State Rep and me.
I then let my lawyer deal with them. My
lawyer continued to assure me that all was well. He said he had convinced
them that my animals were all exotic and that he was just trying to set up
a meeting to get this straightened out. He was having problems reaching
the game officer.
March 19, 2003. A man posing as someone
who was interested in buying a serval came to my house and looked at a
6-month-old serval for his girlfriend. He said he would get back to me on
Friday if he was interested.
March 21, 2003 9am. Six trucks and one
state Police car pull into my driveway. 9 guys with guns approached my
door. They said they had a search warrant and they were here to take my
animals. They were video taping the entire scenario. He told me I had a
choice to assist them in catching my animals to insure their safety or
they would do it and they could not guarantee their safety I told them my
serval was ready to have her kittens and if I pulled her out of her nest
box, she would probably eat her young. Their response was that either I
put her in a carrier or they would. I was trying to catch my lemurs when
my phone rang. When I turned around three officers were in the lemur cage
and one officer was pulling my female by the tail ripping her off of the
rafters. They put my animals in a truck that had dead geese in it. I had
to ask them to please remove the dead animals for fear of disease.
Something has to be done. I am going to court to
fight this issue and to get my animals returned. But more has to be done
to change the laws and to take some of the power away from the Game
Commission. No one is safe. I know a lot of people who have just done what
the Game Commission says just to get rid of them. Somebody needs to hold
them accountable and that somebody needs to be us.