|DLCC Manager's Letter of Response Re: Commerford Zoo|
The following letter was emailed to VFA on November 20, 2009 from the General Manager of the David L. Lawrence Convetion Center, Mark J. Leahy, in response to our email of concern regarding the Commerford & Sons Traveling Zoo which appeared at the Convention Center on November 21st and 22nd.In our letter we demanded that the event be canceled due to Commerford & Sons atrocious record of animal abuse and exploitation, and the danger the event posed to the public. To read our original letter that was sent to the Convetion Center, click here.
Mr. Leahy seems to have completely missed the point of our letter, as our concern with the Commerford Zoo was not over the legality of the event, but rather its unethical and morally abhorrent nature. The video, photographic, and eye-witness reports we later obtained on the day of the event only further proves that Commerford & Sons is an extremely abusive and unscrupulous business.
Ms Lindsay Joyce
Voices for Animals of Western PA
Dear Ms Joyce;
I appreciate your contacting us with your concerns about the upcoming Commerford Zoo event scheduled at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Prior to booking any public event that we as a staff have not directly solicited, we research the event. In this case, we queried other facilities that have hosted the event, had discussions with the USDA specifically regarding Commerford, spoke to representatives at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Mellon Arena (site of the Circus) to make sure we have asked pertinent questions regarding the safety of all. Additionally, I have reviewed the last three years of USDA inspection reports as supplied to us by the USDA and these inspections state that “facility meets all standards and regulations at this time”, “no non-compliant items identified during this inspection” and none of them cite animal neglect or abuse. There are instances where the USDA inspector directed Commerford to correct items which, according to the inspection report, were corrected before the inspector left the premises. Further, at the suggestion of the USDA, we have requested and received the Pennsylvania Game Commission Permit issued to Commerford for the importation of wildlife for ‘use in a temporary menagerie’. The permit has a condition that ‘the wildlife shall be accompanied by a health certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian’.
I believe we have demonstrated our due diligence before contracting this event. At this point it is not an option for us to preclude a legitimate business (in the eyes of the Commonwealth) which meets all legal, regulatory and governmental requirements, the use of a public facility built with the intention of hosting events.
Again, I appreciate your concern for safety and the welfare of these animals.
Mark J. Leahy
David L. Lawrence Convention Center