Akron Man Stripped of License to Sell Exotic Animals - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Akron Man Stripped of License to Sell Exotic Animals

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A federal administrative judge stripped the
license to exhibit or sell exotic animals from a man who operates a
farm in suburban Akron, calling conditions at the farm deplorable.

However, the judge did not force Lorenza Pearson to give up his lions, tigers, bears and other animals and did not levy a $100,000 fine sought by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Judge Victor Palmer, in his April 6 order pulling Pearson's
license, said basic hygiene and sanitation were absent from the L&L
Exotic Animal Farm. When water sources froze in the winter, the
animals had nothing to drink, Palmer wrote.

Drainage was so poor in the animals' pens that they endured
staying wet, and when hibernating bears were jarred awake, there
was no food for them, the order said.

Inspectors cited Pearson "because of the deplorable conditions
that existed at his animal farm," Palmer wrote. The order
permanently disqualifies Pearson from obtaining another license.
Pearson will appeal the judge's order, attorney William Whitaker
said Saturday. If an administrative appeal fails, Pearson will take
the matter to U.S. District Court, Whitaker said.

Pearson has the pens cleaned two or three times a day and a
veterinarian is available full time, Whitaker said.

"He runs a very caring and competent farm. The findings by the
law judge are contradicted by the facts presented at the hearing,"
Whitaker said.

At Pearson's hearing in June, lawyers from the USDA presented
evidence of more than 900 alleged violations of the Animal Welfare
Act.

A USDA inspector testified that during that visit he noted the
only food for 10 large cats was a dead animal contaminated with
dirt and feces.

Authorities removed 29 animals from Pearson's complex in 2004,
including 15 tigers and eight lions, because of public health
concerns.

Pearson was cited by Palmer for 26 violations of the federal
Animal Welfare Act between Jan. 5, 2000, and Feb. 22, 2006.

Palmer rejected Pearson's defense that his problems with federal
inspectors stemmed from his failure to cooperate with a
veterinarian in an investigation of another exotic-animal
exhibitor. That led federal inspectors to seek revenge against him
through repeated inspections, Pearson claimed.

Between 1999 and 2005, Pearson had as many as 82 animals at the
same time - mostly exotic cats and bears, Palmer said in his
report.

The number of animals that Pearson had varied at times, but he
had a medium-sized exotic animal operation, Palmer noted.

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