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PETA asking Rice County Attorney to charge chinchilla ranch owner

The animal-rights group PETA is asking the Rice County Attorney to reopen a case against former chinchilla farm owner Dan Moulton of Chatfield.
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 6:40 PM CST
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FARIBAULT, Minn. (KTTC) – The animal-rights group PETA is asking the Rice County Attorney to reopen a case against former chinchilla farm owner Dan Moulton of Chatfield.

Late last summer, PETA completed an undercover investigation at Dan Moulton’s chinchilla farm, which he ran for medical research. PETA then sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for the ranch to be closed due to animal welfare violations.

The USDA ended up leveling Moulton with federal charges, but misdemeanor animal cruelty charges were still in the works at the state level.

Rice County Attorney John Fossum’s office picked up the state case due to a conflict of interest between the Fillmore County Attorney and Moulton; who also practices law. The Rice County Attorney decided not to prosecute Moulton with animal cruelty charges last August.

“Ultimately that resulted in a fine of $18,000 and a rectification of his license to operate the chinchilla farm and that’s far harsher than anything that could have happened under state law,” Fossum said.

“These things don’t happen on accident. This is someone who routinely denies care. PETA is calling on John Fossum to take action for these animals,” PETA campaigner Katerina Davidovich said.

But the fine and revoking of his license is not enough for PETA. The organization is pushing to have Moulton charged with animal cruelty charges.

“Fillmore County is not able to prosecute him, because of this conflict of interest and because of this preexisting relationship. It’s not going to be a free trial for these animals if it’s prosecuted in Fillmore County,” Davidovich said.

However, Fossum says if PETA wants to reopen the case, it needs to be done through Fillmore County, despite the conflict of interest.

“Once we have declined a conflict case our jurisdiction on the case ends, and it transfers back to Fillmore County, so any further review, any new information, Fillmore County would either have to refer it out or prosecution or make a determination if they still think there’s a conflict,” Fossum said.

Although Moulton can no longer buy any chinchillas for his ranch, we are trying to confirm if he is still in possession of more than 700 chinchillas from his original farm.

We tried reaching out to him several times Friday, but didn’t hear back. We’re told he is battling some medical issues at this time.

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