The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an interesting ruling on July 31, 2015 that is excellent guide to this esoteric corner of federal government regulation and practice.  In the case of Bodie S. Knapp dba The Wild Side v. U.S.D.A, the Court of Appeals largely upheld a governmental order levying  a fine of $398,900 against Knapp for buying and selling regulated animals without a license, in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

Knapp formerly owned and operated a business that exhibited wild and exotic animals to the public, an activity requiring the appropriate permit.  His operations were allegedly so egregious that his license was revoked and a cease and desist order was issued.  In 2009, the Administrator initiated the instant action against Knapp, alleging that after losing his license, he continued to buy, sell, and transport hundreds of animals in violation of the Act and its implementing regulations.

One of the arguments will receive further attention; the Judicial Officer did not sufficiently explain his reasons for treating aoudad, alpaca, and miniature donkeys as “animals” and not as “farm animals”—two regulatory categories of particular significance here.