Where We Stand »
July 19, 2005 - Sentenced to two years in county jail and five years of probation
He will receive credit for 204 days already served. Judge Ronald L. Taylor ordered that Weinhart not own, possess, care for or volunteer in a place with animals, and that he stay 50 yards away from exotic cats for the duration of his probation. He is also to receive psychological counseling and attend anger management and parenting classes.
It's finally over.
June 20, 2005 - Sentencing for John Weinhart
John Weinhart, who was recently convicted on 56 felonies of child and animal abuse, will be back in court on Monday, June 20, 2005, at 8:30am. Tippi Hedren, who testified against him in his trial, will be there. We are urging everyone to write letters to ensure that he serves time in prison for the heinous crimes he has committed against the tigers who were in his care. Write to:
Judge Ronald Taylor
Riverside Criminal Courts Department
Hall of Justice
4100 Main Street
Riverside, California 92501
See the timeline or the case report on Pet-Abuse.Com for the most current case updates.
The remaining 7 tigers will be loaded into transport cages and transferred to Ark 2000 on the morning of Saturday 26 February. Loading will begin at 7:00 A.M. Weinhart's trial continues. (See the In the News page for recent news articles, or read the updates on Pet-Abuse.Com)
The Glen Avon trial is finally underway after at least 10 postponements. Prosecutors are expected to use the graphic photos of the decaying tigers and frozen cubs in the case, despite protests from the defense.
Weinhart's attorney, R. Addison Steele II, told the judge that when a tiger or cub died on the property, Weinhart would throw lime over the body in an effort to destroy any diseases or parasites, or he would freeze a cub's body in anticipation of a post-mortem examination.
The lime was used, Steele said, as part of a business venture in bleaching and selling the tigers' bones to collectors.
"I'll bring a [tiger] skull into court to show that it's a process," Steele said.
Both defendants' attorneys said the manner in which Weinhart and Smith disposed of and stored the dead animals in Glen Avon was not illegal and did not endanger their son.
"[The boy] is a farm kid who's grown up in rural Glen Avon," Steele said in court. "He's grown up around animals, exotic animals. He knows animals die…. A skeleton is not dangerous to a child. If anything, it's educational."
In addition to the animal cruelty charges, Weinhart is also charged with failing to maintain a program of disease prevention and parasite control. Prosecutor Weissman also said chicken kept in the same freezer that held the tiger cubs was for the family's consumption, which the defense denied.
August 1, 2003 Update
On July 29, the two African lions and 11 leopards began the trip to their new permanent homes. The lions and several of the leopards went to the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center in Keenesburg, Colorado. The remaining leopards went to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point, Indiana. One leopard slated for transport was humanely euthanized due to poor health and old age, by recommendation of the four veterinarians present during the move. The leopard had few teeth remaining and showed extreme pain and difficulty in movement. She died peacefully with a volunteer by her side, comforting her.
Two days later on July 31, the cougar began the 22 hour trip to his new home at the Austin Zoo. The Austin Zoo is an excellent zoo with a top-notch facility and veterinary care.
Weinhart removed a few more animals on Friday, August 1. He has removed the dogs and most of the emus, rheas and ostriches. This leaves us with the 39 tigers, the chickens, and the fallow deer to provide care and find homes for.
Although the removal and transport of these animals has lightened our load slightly, we are still in dire need of donations, volunteers, and reliable sanctuary homes for the remaining animals.
We also ask that anyone wishing to express their support for Chuck Traisi's efforts do so using the comment form provided. We print out the comments every day and bring them to the Tiger Rescue facility for Chuck to read.
July 21, 2003 Update
Today was the last day of Weinhart's available time to comply with the requirement of removing the cats from the state of California. As per the law, if Weinhart is unwilling or unable to move them out of California by the deadline, the state is authorized to find new owners for them.
Because Weinhart had not even attempted to move a single cat within the time he was granted, his lawyers once again petitioned today for a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from moving the cats. If the temporary restraining order was granted, Weinhart would be in a position to insist that the condition of his bond which prohibits him from providing care for or physically possessing any animals be lifted to allow him to care for the cats, since the efforts of Chuck Traisi and the Fund for Animals can not continue indefinitely, leaving the cats with no one to care for them.
San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Tara Reilly denied the temporary restraining order, allowing the state to begin moving the cats to permanent sanctuary homes as soon as transport can be arranged.
Judge Reilly said relocating the animals to other facilities is key to their survival.
I cannot leave the animals there, Reilly said. If I do, I am guaranteeing their demise. It sounds to me that something has to be done very quickly in order to save the cats.
Reilly did require that state officials keep track of the relocated cats so that Weinhart can get them back if he is allowed to care for animals again.
Read more about the ruling at The Press-Enterprise website.
This is a tremendous victory for Chuck Traisi and the volunteers supporting this effort - but most importantly for the 54 cats at Tiger Rescue. Today marks the end of their nightmare of neglect and cruelty and the beginning of their journey home.
So What Happens Now?
The wheels have already begun to turn to begin transporting the cats to their new sanctuary homes, however moving them will be a time-consuming and expensive endeavor. Naturally, it takes time to move so many large animals, and we will still need volunteers and donations during this process. Even as groups of cats are being removed, we will still need people to come out and assist with the care, cleaning and feeding of the remaining animals while they await transport.