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Michigan Animal Sanctuary Cited By USDA For Multiple Violations

BROWN CITY, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan animal sanctuary that has been the target of activists has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more violations.

Summer Wind Farms Animal Sanctuary in Brown City was cited last month for 13 violations of the Animal Welfare Act in the USDA's latest report on the facility, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported. The sanctuary has been cited 140 times since January 2014.

The sanctuary, about 55 miles north of Detroit, has tigers, bears, monkeys, alpaca and foxes that were once pets, mascots, movie extras or roadside attractions.

Chuck Vanneste, the sanctuary's chief executive, said many of the animals would have been euthanized if Summer Wind Farms hadn't taken them in. He said the animals in the sanctuary's care are treated humanely, but they often arrive old, sick or abused.

The October USDA report includes citations for an improper enclosure for two juvenile brown bears, improperly euthanizing a fox and skunk, feces in a macaque enclosure, rodent holes throughout the facility and a lack of adequately trained employees.

Vanneste said the animals didn't suffer.

"Animals at the sanctuary are euthanized only when necessary with veterinarian approval and using veterinarian-approved methods," Vanneste said in a statement. "No animal at the sanctuary has ever been denied (a) veterinarian when needed."

The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the report indicates that neglect and abuse are the norm. Summer Wind Farms also is listed in a lawsuit filed by PETA that said the USDA "rubber stamps" license renewals for animal sanctuaries.

"It just shows more of the same at Summer Wind Farms pseudo-sanctuary," said Jenni James, a lawyer for the PETA Foundation. "The USDA needs to slam the doors on this place for good."

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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