An Ozark, Mo.-based magician whose story about being harassed by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service agents (a.k.a., “Rabbit Police”) was one of three stories highlighted in an article two years ago, Marty Hahne contacted me today with an update.“You won’t believe what the USDA has come up with now,” Hahne wrote in an email message late Friday afternoon. “If this wasn’t so stupid, it would be funny!”
He went on to share details about his continued harassment by the USDA — all for using a three-pound rabbit in his magic act:
My USDA rabbit license requirement has taken another ridiculous twist. I just received an 8 page letter from the USDA, telling me that by July 29 I need to have in place a written disaster plan, detailing all the steps I would take to help get my rabbit through a disaster, such as a tornado, fire, flood, etc. They not only want to know how I will protect my rabbit during a disaster, but also what I will do after the disaster, to make sure my rabbit gets cared for properly. I am not kidding–before the end of July I need to have this written rabbit disaster plan in place, or I am breaking the law.
In his email message, Hahne also explained the timeline via which he must comply: 1) the new regulation became effective Jan. 30, 2012; 2) the written plan must be completed by July 29, 2013; 3) Hahne and his wife, Brenda, must be trained to implement the plan as written; and 4) the written plan must be available for review by USDA inspectors by Sept. 28, 2013.
In a reply to Hahne, I suggested he put a tag around his rabbit’s neck that spells out the plan (i.e., “kill, cook, eat”) for anyone who finds his rabbit after a disaster. NOTE: My high school son, the artist, put my idea of a plan into the graphic above, but I doubt it will satisfy the USDA.
If stories like this one irk you, contact your elected officials in Washington, D.C., and tell them to tell the hare-brained folks at the USDA it’s time for them to stop chasing rabbits!
UPDATE 6/29/2013 at 9:35 p.m. Central: Here’s a copy of the 13-page letter (PDF) Marty received from the USDA. Note the salutation on the letter: “Dear Members of Our Regulated Community.” So personal! [CORRECTION 6/30/13 6:35 a.m. Central Note: Last night I accidentally uploaded the wrong file a the PDF and someone let me know this morning. Now, the right file is linked to the PDF above. And it turned out to be more than 8 pages. Sorry.]
UPDATE 6/29/2013 at 9:56 p.m. Central: It’s gone viral! See: A Lot of People Are Interested in USDA Disaster Plans for Rabbits.