Fair goers in Beaver Borough have filed complaints alleging an amusement company has been neglecting animals which were being given away as carnival prizes.
Calls began coming into the Beaver County Humane Society after Elizabeth Zahn of Beaver Falls posted a photo of a rabbit she won at the fair to her Facebook Page. Zahn alleged the animals were being mistreated.
“I won this bunny today at the Beaver carnival. There was a tiny cage of about twenty bunnies jumping all over each other. They had no food or water and were covered in each other’s waste. When I won the bunny I took it to Petsmart and bought it food and it drank an extreme amount of water because he was so dehydrated,” wrote Zahn. “I also bought a bag of food and took it back to the carnival which I fed the bunnies myself because the man in charge of the game didn’t want to. The food bowl was completely empty and the bunnies were fighting each other to get to the food [...] It’s so sad how animals are horribly mistreated like this.”
The festival in Beaver is being operated by the Wellsville, Ohio based Deshler Amusements Inc. under an agreement with Beaver Borough.
Susan Salyards, Executive Director of the Beaver County Humane Society, said her organization received numerous complaints from concerned citizens. “We have been contacted by many people and I can tell you there is an open and ongoing investigation.”
Senior Beaver County Humane Officer Jak McGown said the organization took immediate action on behalf of the rabbits. “My agent did approach the owner’s son at the fair and told him it is an illegal practice. According to Pennsylvania state law you can not give away any animals as prizes except fish,” said McGown. “We told them the cages the rabbits were in were too crowded and that they needed to make sure the animals had food and water.”
Pennsylvania law states that “No person shall give or offer to give away any live animal, except fish, as a prize in any drawing, lottery, contest, sweepstakes or other game” (18 Pa.C.S. § 5511.1). Violations of the statute constitute a summary offense punishable by a fine of up to $250.
Humane Officer Lois Cummins said she will continue to check in on the fair to make sure the rabbits, which are still in the amusement company’s custody, aren’t used as carnival prizes and to ensure the animals are being cared for properly.
Elizabeth Zahn told the Beaver Countian it was “great news” to hear the Humane Society became involved to help the rabbits.
“Until yesterday we hadn’t heard anything about rabbits,” said Beaver Councilman Lauson Cashdollar. “We had no idea they were giving away rabbits. [Beaver Borough] didn’t know about the rabbits or about how they were being treated [...] I’m glad to hear this matter was taken care of.”
Beaver Borough Manager Adam Rathbun emphasized the carnival games are owned and operated solely by Deshler Amusements. “The only involvement we have day to day is we provide volunteers who man the ticket booths. The Borough gets a portion of those proceeds from Deshler in return for using our parks, and we split our share of those funds with the Chamber of Commerce. That is the extent of our involvement.”
Deshler Amusements Inc. did not return a detailed voicemail message seeking comment left on a cellphone number listed on their site.