Government regulations have reached into Key West to disturb the peaceful existence of the many descendants of Ernest Hemingway's six-toed pet cat Snowball:
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled Friday that the Hemingway Home falls under the classification of an “animal exhibitor,” subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act.
The museum’s conflict with the agency dates back to 2003, when a Hemingway Home visitor complained to the USDA about the museum’s care of the cats. In response, the USDA entered museum property and conducted an investigation into the complaint.
The agency determined that the Hemingway Home was subject to USDA regulation because it both exhibited the cats for an admission fee and used the cats in promotional advertising.
Even though the museum retains a veterinarian to care for the cats, the USDA demanded that the museum ”… obtain an exhibitor’s license; contain and cage the cats in individual shelters at night, or alternatively, construct a higher fence or an electric wire atop the existing brick wall, or alternatively, hire a night watchman to monitor the cats; tag each cat for identification purposes; construct additional elevated resting surfaces for the cats within their existing enclosures; and pay fines for the Museum’s non-compliance with the AWA.”
The USDA threatened to confiscate the cats if the museum did not comply.
As always, the issuing of an ultimatum: do it the way we tell you...or else.