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Current Affairs

This is the page you should bookmark and visit any time you want to know what we are currently working on and where your membership money is being channeled. These are the projects we are dedicating the majority of our time and budget to.

We sincerely hope our members will read below and realize the tremendous amount of personal time and money the IAWA board members are dedicating on our industry’s behalf for the minimal financial support requested.

We welcome input from anyone regarding misinformation or further information on the following issues or more importantly, new ones. We respectfully ask that non-fact based opinions by those opposing the views of IAWA not be submitted. Please scroll down to see our most recent efforts and concerns.

* Blue text denotes most recent input.

To our Members: It is important that we don’t loose focus and let the animal rights extremist groups get a foot up above us on the below mentioned issues. We can not afford to throw in the towel - ever! We must remain united, strong, and most important, funded. We are still battling USDA and F&G on several VERY important issues -  battles we expect to eventually find their way into court rooms.

The politicians who authored last year's bills (that we opposed) have had months to meet with their opposition and negotiate deals. They will edit the language in their revised bills that will exempt and/or remove their opposition which will allow them focus and go after the smaller private industry (us)! For years, they banked on the fact that we are not as well organized, known, or funded! Last year was the second year IAWA showed otherwise and we do not want our impact to lessen.

We are counting on the pledged money that everyone agreed to donate in order to finance our continuing battles and urge all to honor those pledges to allow us to do so.

If you need an updated pledge roster to remind you, please contact Barbara (see the Who we are/Our Board page ) for more information.

11/2012: In a recent HSUS Blog by HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle, the following projects are listed as their top projects after the 2012 elections: as you can see, our work will be cut out for us shortly for these issues will in fact have a very negative impact on our industries.

● Chimpanzees: List all chimpanzees as endangered, phase out invasive experiments, and permanently retire these chimpanzees to sanctuaries.

● Large Constrictor Snakes: List the reticulated python, the DeSchauensee’s anaconda, the green anaconda, the Beni anaconda and the boa constrictor as injurious under the Lacey Act. This would prohibit the import and interstate transport of these snakes as pets, as the administration has already done for four species of snakes posing a similar risk to natural resources.

● Exotic Animals: Prohibit AWA-licensed exhibitors from allowing public contact with big cats, bears, or primates. Allowing individuals other than trained employees or veterinarians to come into direct contact or unsafe close contact with these animals at any age poses a risk to animal welfare and public safety. Finalize a proposed rule to regulate breeding of captive tigers.

● African Lions: Grant petition to list the African lion as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. See below

10/08  For those who have sent us their concerns regarding Tippi Hedren’s new proposed federal legislation that will ban the breeding of exotic cats in the private sector, rest assured we are both aware of and on top of it.

The information we’ve received up to now suggests that the bill has not been picked up by anyone to carry it through the process. This is probably due to its incredibly transparent and unjust prejudice against the private industry. The current language that was forwarded to us has tremendous issues surrounding basic human rights and trade laws. So we’ll continue to watch for any progress on this and keep you posted as we see it. 

5/2010 Rumor has it that Tippi’s litterary rampage is soon to make an appearance again soon. Be assured we are waiting to see it and will as always, do our best to work with her or opposed her attempt to once again remove animals from everyone’s life, other than her own.


1/2012-Present: AND SHE HAS!!! Tippi has found yet another misinformed politician to sponsor another federal bill ~ HR 4122 that will make it illegal for anyone in the country to breed their big cats except AZA accredited zoos and what the bill defines as “qualified sanctuaries”~ in other words, her facility!!! Yes, this is no doubt unconstitutional and YES, it would probably get destroyed in a federal court of law but they presented it this way regardless banking on everyone’s inability to get it there. Best of all, guess who’s co-sponsoring the bill??? Our very own Congressman Sam Farr! We’ve been watching this bill closely and have our lobbying firm working on it in conjunction with many other lobbying firms across the country working for other organizations. We attempted to work with the author of this bill to once again ask that they consider input from “true animal professionals” and possibly arrive at a bill we could all support but they refused our input as did Farr! The bill is moving too slowly for Tippi so she is now asking for USDA to step in and make it a part of their regulations! This battle is far from over! We’ll keep you posted.

4/2011 For those of us who dedicated the time, money and effort to sit on the F&G Advisory Committee for 5+ years and the battle efforts of the extremist activists who joined us, we all remember the heated discussions over the inspection process that occupied many hours of many meetings. In the end, we all agreed that if in fact, a veterinarian’s income from a facility was not more than 10% of his or her total annual income, there was NO conflict of interests in having that veterinarian inspect our facilities. Regardless of the activist’s misinterpretation of Title 671 that led them to believe that F&G’s allowing veterinarians to do these inspections was illegal (and threaten to sue F&G for doing so, our legal council still maintains that it was and is not. Regardless, when the results of our efforts were put into law and we realized that the inspection process remained the same, we all felt there was something wrong for those extremist activists didn’t object! Well we were right for while we were thinking it was all said and done with, they were lobbying behind close doors with F&G who is NOW attempting to revisit the changes and further implement a new inspection process that will quadruple our inspection fees and complicate the entire process! They claim it will not end up costing the state money and in fact, make money for the state but we know better. So we are back in the saddle on this very important in threatening issue. We are soliciting our legal and lobbying council that has helped us on so many other occasions and approaching this issue from both avenues. The arguments regarding this matter are very complicated and long so any/all members who are interested are welcome and encouraged to contact Charlie Sammut personally for more information. How a state agency in such financial trouble can suggest to the State that the hiring of two more state employees for $80,000+ annually each to do a job that has been done otherwise free to the state for the past 20+ years is what we hope to force the Dept. to answer and the Governor’s office to realize. There is a public hearing on this before the F&G Commission on June 29-30 in Stockton California. ALL OUR NEEDED AND ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND IF THERE IS ANY HOPE OF SOLVING THIS PROBLEM!6/2011 Because we don’t have enough trouble with F&G and USDA, yet another agency is entering the arena in an attempt to buffer their political and financial issues with the State of California. Many of you have inundated my office with calls regarding Calif. Purlic Health’s threat to shut down the movement of any/all primates and/or carnivores into California. After a lengthy conversation with one, Susan Williams of CPH, I’m convinced that you are all correct. The long and short of is that Governor Brown issues an exec. order banning all “unessential travel” by state agencies in California. CPH is now saying that because they can not travel to inspect animals coming into the state, they are not going to allow it Now the truth is that they have NEVER done such inspections and we have a mountain of paperwork to prove it!!! They are just loading this political bullet into the gun to fire it at the Governor at our expense for when we asked why they are doing this now, they simply answered, “ talk to your new Governor!!!”

YES, this could be questionably illegal and believe me, we are looking it. We studied the statures authorizing CPH to implement such import rules and found where they can and are supposed to maintain a list of animals requiring their permission but to date, no-one (to include CPH) can find where such a list even exists so for years, they’ve been in violation of their own statute. To arbitrarily issue a ban on animals that pose absolutely no threat to public health and have never had a record of doing so is simply wrong and we hope to go after it as quickly and time and resources allow.

On Thursday, 6/30/11, myself and IAWA Board member Rob Dicely traveled and attended the Fish and Game Commission’s public hearing in Stockton, California. Also attending were potential IAWA members Bonnie Cromwell from Classroom Safaris, Joe & Stephanie Cavallo from Friends of the Feather and Eric Weld of Hollywood Animals. Unfortunately, that was the total number of industry representatives who showed up to show opposition to the proposed changes to Title 671 that would amplify our fees tremendously as well as place us at the mercy of inspectors chosen by the Department. A representative from our legal/lobbying firm was present but under the veil of another client (Ringling Bros.) which saved IAWA funds while accomplishing the same task at hand. Others who attended to oppose the proposed changes were Sac. Zoo, CAZA, UC Davis University, and several unknown private individuals with minimal animal collections who both helped and hindered our cause by attempting to separate themselves from those with greater financial interests in the animal industries…

Those present to support the proposed changes were representatives/legal council from  extremists activists groups such as Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, Los Angeles County SPCA, Fund for Animals and others.

In the end, those who did attend and “have their voices heard” DID accomplish the task at hand, we were able to convince the commission that the proposed plan as described by the Dept. WOULD NOT WORK! An extremely convincing argument was made to prove that there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY two people could inspect that many facilities as well as the traveling shows and repeat visits therefore making the proposed budget to do so fictitious. We also argued that there was NO WAY a part time clerical staff member could keep track of the necessary paperwork that would be required therefore placing the state in violation of their own statute should they not be able to do so. We further presented the possibility of such a proposal being in direct violation of the new Governors executive order banning any new hiring and/or unessential travel not already mandated by statute. So the Commission basically sent F&G back to the drawing board of which IAWA does currently hold seats at. The Commission directed the Dept. to postpone the planned adoption hearing for August until further notice.

This was truly the most we could hope to accomplish at this hearing and we did just that. Our goal now is to continue working with the Dept. to be an instrumental part of the evolution of Title 671 instead of a victim. Our work is nowhere near over yet! Rest assured that our opposition was at the doors of F&G bright and early this morning lobbying on their behalf ~ against us!!! Unfortunately, their pockets are much deeper! We still have animals to care for so our work will be much more difficult to accomplish but we will continue to do just that, get it done.

1-/5/2011 The Dept. of Fish and Game recalled the F&G Commission Advisory Committee which met today to reopen the matter of inspections. Present for IAWA were Charlie Sammut and Rob Dicely (standing in for Committee member, Kari Johnson.) The meeting started with a very comprehensive disertation by the Dept. explaining much of their thinking when dealing with the inspection process. They then introduced an idea, using retired F&G wardens to accomplish the inspection process. To make a very long thought process short, this idea seemed to find favor with all sides of the table, to include our members as well as the activists on the committee. Although there are many political and legal questions yet to be answered to accomplish this idea, this ball is now in F&G’s court having received a blessing from all of us. We truly feel this will create a very impartial and dedicated group to accomplish this task with no adversity to the activity of the facilities they will be inspecting. Also present at the meeting were those hoping to seek exemption from these new regulations and inspections, to include the research and lab industry as well as AZA. Interestingly enough, this opened a Pandora’s Box that I doubt AZA expected for although no-one showed any preference on the exemption for research, all agreed that AZA facilities should NO LONGER be exempt from California minimum standards. All issues were tabled until F&G could do more research on all the information at which time they will notify us for another meeting. As always, we will keep you posted as the information is made available to us.

1-2012 to present:

As it stands now on this issue, the dept. has adopted a policy that will have Fish and Game annuitants (retired F&G warrants) inspecting California facilities, an option we felt was as safe and fair as we were going to see on this matter and therefore all agreed to. It eliminated the ability of private activist groups entering memorandums with the state to contract the inspections. Although we all agree that having our veterinarians complete our inspections was by far the most economical and professional method for both the state and the licensee, F&G could not get past the conflict of interest issues that the activist groups kept threatening them with. Exemptions remained the same but should have little impact on us unless AZA continues to blame unfortunate incidents on the fact that some facilities are unaccredited by their organization.


F&G is currently implementing their new program, using retired F&G wardens called back to service for the purpose of meeting the demands of title 671. Initial inspections are underway as permits come up for renewal. We are hearing that they are EXTREMELY THOROUGH and are therefore urging all members to be sure they’ve seen the changes required and met those demands prior to their inspection. Once in compliance, our relationship should be as professional as it has always been.

1/2011 USDA ~ Stat-Pac and Mopia Testing ~ This will be a short notice for it only pertains to the few members who have elephants in their inventories but a new TB testing protocol is being implemented by USDA that many feel is untested, unreliable and threatening to the elephants due to the tremendous number of false positives the tests produce. It is a very long and confusing subject but an extremely serious one to any/all elephant owners, managers and/or those who use other’s elephants in our industries. So again, anyone wishing more information on this subject should contact Charlie Sammut ASAP for more information.                       

4/4 After attending a special conference on the above Stat-Pac testing issue held by USDA in Kansas, the threat seems even more threatening and an activist movement is eminent. Again, for any/all interested, contact Charlie Sammut for more information for the protocol being used in this movement could be used against all exotic animals in the near future and literally shut down EVERY industry!!!

10/1/2012 We’ve been fairly quiet on this matter for a reason, it is confusing, political but across the board, still very very present! This testing is being disqualified by more and more professionals around the world making it less and less valid. Now we just have to convince USDA and other agencies to look at the science and the facts rather than listening to the rhetoric of the activists! We’re working with and under the advice of EMA and other truly valid elephant organizations, following their lead when our help is needed.

9/2013 To the best of our knowledge, science might have actually risen above extremist activism belief and bullying in USDA’s decision making, rendering the Stat-pac and Mopia testing suspended for the time being. We can not commend those who stuck with this battle, in the true interests of the elephants, enough! We can only hope that USDA continues to utilize fact over fiction and science over activism in future decisions.

7 /2013 - USDA - A Petition to Ban Public Contact of Big Cats, Bears and Primates

Although is might seem as though the title should be of concern to responsible professionals in our industries, it is truthfully yet another misrepresented ploy to remove such animals from all forms of entertainment. Implemented to the letter of the law, it would do just that. The petition was authored by HSUS, a extremist activist group that is unfortunately permitted to use a name which misleads the general public to believe they are in fact a federally sanctioned humane society when in fact, they are a private radical extremist activist group. We have made countless offers to go to the table with the authors of this bill where we feel we can arrive at happy mediums that will in fact benefit all concerned and deter public contact in all nonprofessional arenas but our requests have been refused. The authors of this bill were even so deceitful on this petition, they’ve offered circuses years of exemptions in an attempt to remove them from the opposition long enough to bring their movement to fruition. We can only hope the circuses will see the light at the end of the tunnel and continue to oppose this petition as the are currently doing.

IAWA has filed it’s letter opposing the effort and his standing by awaiting instruction from legal and lobbying advisors. We have also received assistance from the MPTA, a greatly appreciated effort that we feel could prove extremely instrumental.

11 /2013 - The Hollywood Reporter attacks AHA, animal trainers/owners, and the film industry that works with them...

The film industry’s historical publication, The Hollywood Reporter turned its back on the animals that helped make it so and showed it’s true extremist activist colors in Nov. of 2013.

See front page of this website for our response.

12/1/10 - Below is a letter IAWA recieved that we felt was extremely worthy of sharing in reference to this article. I very much defines the sensationalistic mis-truths that were printed in this article to create the “production value” this publication needed to go to print:


To the editor of the Gary Baum Story, "No Animals Were Harmed" - Below is a copy of the letter I sent to Mr. Baum, to which he has not had the common courtesy to reply:

"I am deeply troubled by your Nov. 25, 2013 story "No Animals Were Harmed". Particularly troubling is your statement that "The sources point to a lack of interest in pursuing inquiries in recent years, for example, why sick animals might have been made to work by trainers, as in the productions of Marmaduke and Our Idiot Brother." I cannot speak about the other incidents you mention; but as the breeder, owner, trainer and on-set handler of Golden Retriever Gable, the dog you mention from "Our Idiot Brother", I can tell you that his death was completely unrelated to his on-set work. Gable died of hemangiosarcoma in August of 2010. For your information, dogs with hemangiosarcoma rarely show clinical signs until the tumor is very large and metastasized. Sadly, by then it is too late. From the day he started acting strangely, to the day he died (5 days later), Gable did not go back to work. We had not been on set for approximately a week when Gable started acting lethargically. We immediately took him to the vet and did so two more times in those five days, until multiple tests finally proved he had spleen cancer. At the vet's suggestion, Gable underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Sadly, he passed a few hours after the surgery. The pain of Gable's loss remains with us to this day. He was not only our dog, he was a beloved family member. It is extremely irresponsible for you to state that he was "made to work" while ill - that is a total fabrication. If you had really just wanted to expose any wrong doing, you would have further investigated your story and would not have omitted pertinent facts. Perhaps, you would even have called the trainers of the examples you cite and asked us to comment. I would have been happy to discuss our experience with you. Clearly, your intent was to write a sensationalistic piece to get notice. We have been working on sets with AHA monitors for over ten years and have always been impressed with their concern over the well being of animal actors. Furthermore, it is insulting for you to accuse me of not caring about my dogs. You know nothing about my family and me. In the future, kindly refrain from using inaccurate facts about us.

It is also extremely disturbing to see all the negative comments and insinuations made about my dog and me by those being misled by the false information in the article, not only in the publication itself, but also on your FB page.  Using the loss of our dog to bolster your ratings is beyond disgusting.  I guess the saying "never let facts get in the way of a good story" is alive and well at your paper.  Mr. Baum's defaming comments about me are unacceptable.  I demand that you immediately remove any reference from your paper to my dog or me from the internet.  I also expect a written apology and a retraction - both directly to me, on your website and on your FB page.   None of this will reverse the damage already done, but perhaps it will help end further pain and suffering caused us by Mr. Baum's story.I would appreciate your prompt attention to this unsettling matter,

Sincerely,, Christina Potter"


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