Triple D deactivates social media, lawyers up, blames violations on 'disgruntled former employees'


Photo of a bear shared from Facebook/Triple D Wildlife

Triple D Game Farm, Kalispel, MT, has disabled their social media and sent a letter to their clients blaming the facility’s animal welfare violations on “disgruntled former employees.”


Triple D Game Farm, sometimes called Triple D Wildlife, is a photography game farm. The facility is owned by Jay and Kim Deist who buy, sell, breed and collect wild animals and profit off of them by renting them out for wildlife photography and filming.


Because it is difficult to photograph wild animals in their native habitats, some wildlife photographers rent wild animals from game farms to photograph.


At Triple D, wild animals that would normally roam more than a hundred miles a day in their natural environment are relegated to small cages on wire grates or concrete floors. They’re only removed from their enclosures for training or to perform for visiting photographers.


In June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited Triple D six times for keeping animals in dirty enclosures polluted with feces and filthy water.


After news of the violations spread on social media, Triple D deactivated their Facebook page. The facility also apparently hired a lawyer and sent a letter to their clients denying claims that their animals are neglected.


In the letter, Triple D said the allegations of improper animal care are false statements made by disgruntled former employees.


“During the past year these disgruntled former employees hacked Triple D’s social media accounts, stole official business records from Triple D offices and misappropriated animal medical records from the veterinarian that provides medical care to Triple D’s animals,” the letter said.


Blaming disgruntled employees for animal welfare violations is a common tactic used at troublesome facilities to deflect from the serious issues occurring.


In their letter, Triple D said they believe the same disgruntled former employees accused the USDA inspector of corruption prior to the inspection.


USDA records indicate Triple D Game Farm was inspected each year from 2013-2019 by Animal Care Inspector Brian Hood.


In 2013, Hood cited Triple D with a critical violation for declawing a tiger cub.


“The female juvenile tiger known as Hershey is eight months old and was declawed at two months of age,” according to the USDA report. “Licensee stated that ‘the tiger was declawed because he would not work a tiger with claws.’”


The inspector noted that declawing tigers can cause ongoing pain, discomfort, or other pathological conditions.


“No wild or exotic carnivores may be declawed,” the report said.


From 2014-2019, Hood inspected the facility once per year and gave the facility a clean inspection report at each visit. In 2020, USDA inspections were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


In June 2021, the USDA sent Veterinary Medical Officer Debbie Cunningham to complete an inspection at Triple D Game Farm and Hood came along as an additional inspector.


Cunningham documented filthy, dilapidated enclosures filled with feces that were unsafe and could injure animals or let them escape.


Triple D said the USDA found “none of these serious allegations were substantiated,” and “the lead inspector commended the staff on the high quality of animal care and stated the health and condition of Triple D Wildlife was ‘one of the best’ she’d seen in the industry.”


Documents indicate the allegations about the conditions of the facility were, in fact, substantiated. The inspector cited Triple D with six violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.


“Several minor infractions of animal care policy were found by the inspectors,” according to Triple D. “As described in the inspection report, most were resolved during the inspection.”


Documents indicate Triple D told the USDA inspector that the enclosures filled with “dirt, grime, food debris and excreta” were the result of a decrease in employee numbers caused by COVID-19.


However, Triple D’s recently departed head animal keeper Heather Keepers posted on Facebook that the facility has the same number of staff that they had while she worked there.


“COVID has had zero to do with any staff leaving, other than one team member who left at the beginning of COVID in early 2020 and is actually back working there,” Keepers said. “So I reiterate, COVID has absolutely nothing to do with staffing numbers. And therefore, the cleaning and maintenance issues had absolutely nothing to do with a new shortage of personnel.”


Keepers statement seems to imply that the substandard care at Triple D is a regular occurrence and the facility’s claims that the USDA violations are the result of "disgruntled former employees" and a lack of staff appear to be false.

2013 Triple D USDA inspection report :

2013-report-USDA-APHIS-ACIS3-INSPECTION-REPORT-OCT-30-2013
.pdf
Download PDF • 16KB

2021 Triple D USDA inspection report:

PST_Inspection_Report_Triple D Game Farm Inc
.pdf
Download PDF • 256KB

2021 Triple D letter to clients:

Triple-D-letter-to-clients (3)
.pdf
Download PDF • 129KB