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May 25, 2011

Our 21st-Century Regulatory System – Wascally Wabbit Edition

We continue to monitor the progress being made on President Obama’s “21st-Century Regulatory System” initiative intended to not only promote “economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation," but also to “root out regulations that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb,” and yet at the same time “won't shy away from addressing obvious gaps.” 

The Dollarhite family of Nixa, Missouri was recently fined $90,643 for having run afoul of a law that designates anyone selling more than $500 worth of animals (in this case, rabbits) to a pet store, a “wholesale breeder of pet animals,” thus requiring a license from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

 If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking, “That’s a coincidence. My bail just happens to be $90,643.”

Also, “Well of course selling more than $500 worth of animals to a pet store will designate you as a wholesale breeder of pet animals thus requiring a license from the USDA. That’s just common sense. They’re lucky they only got fined ninety grand.”

Actually, it could get up to $4 million.

The whole thing started when the Dollarhites wanted to teach their teenage son a thing or two about responsibility, apparently forgetting the part about how we all have a responsibility to ask permission from the government before we do anything that we had not already secured permission to do.  So they started raising rabbits and selling them to neighbors, friends, and eventually, a local pet sore and petting zoo.

It was then that a crack USDA inspector happened to be going through some invoices at a pet store and came across the criminal transactions.  Going on little more than their complete home address, the inspector tracked down the Dollarhites and what she found shocked her: A cage that was a quarter inch too narrow.  A finding made all the more stunning by the fact that no such law mandating the specific size of rabbit cages exists.  (Cage size is something each breeder works out with the USDA inspector on a case-by-case basis, because we are not a nation of men, we are not a nation of laws, we are a nation of men who make up laws.)

After another cryptic visit, and some months passed, the Dollarhites received a letter which cited their infractions and offered the opportunity to simply plead guilty and pay the $90,643 fine in any of a number of convenient ways:

Rabbit Settlement Agreement

It’s sort of like a speeding ticket, only the kind of speeding ticket you’d get if you were going 8,000 miles per hour in a school zone.

But, hey, the law is the law, by which we mean, “they got some heavyweights to apply political pressure,” and it appears the Dollarhites may be able to settle the matter for less.

In other rabbit news, the USDA is finally, finally cracking down on magicians’ rabbits.

Look, you want to pull a rabbit out of a hat, that hat better have proper ventilation, adequate sanitation, and a readily available source of hydration. 

Better yet, you want to entertain kids and pull something out of a hat?  How about you pull out a copy of the Code of Federal Regulations, TITLE 9 - ANIMALS AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS, CHAPTER I - ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, SUBCHAPTER A - ANIMAL WELFARE, PART 2 – REGULATIONS, subpart a – LICENSING.

We need to start these kids young on the world they’ll be joining soon.


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May 25, 2011 at 06:24 PM in Our 21st-Century Regulatory System | Permalink


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"the kind of speeding ticket you’d get if you were going 8,000 miles per hour in a school zone"

Classic! Couldn't they have just put up a sign & made it a retail operation?

Posted by: Marty | May 25, 2011 9:43:15 PM

My guess is, the very first law they'd inadvertently break doing that is the local sign ordinance.

Posted by: Planet Moron | May 26, 2011 8:37:07 AM

I read that some appropriate posterior rearrangement therapy was applied to the USDA by the Dollarhites' senator.

Posted by: TheOldMan | May 26, 2011 12:35:45 PM

Live by the therapy, fine by the therapy ?

Posted by: Marty | May 26, 2011 7:23:46 PM

An obnoxious law and egregious penalty to be sure. But it says they were notified several times over 56 transactions? Maybe at that point you comply? Yes, it shouldn't happen. Velociraptors prowling my yard also shouldn't happen but if I knew one was there I wouldn't just keep walking past it.

(Horrible analogy, I just can't think of one I like better.)

Posted by: Amarsir | Jun 1, 2011 8:45:44 PM

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