Report: USDA changes tune on regulation of magic show rabbit

The agency enacted a new final rule in January, mandating that all animal dealers, exhibitors, intermediate handlers and carriers develop contingency plans in case of fire, flood, chemical leak or other potential disasters.

“The goal of this rule is to increase the regulated community’s awareness and understanding about their responsibilities to protect their animals in emergency situations,” according to the agency.

According to the Post report, the rule was being interpreted to apply to Marty Hahne, a southern Missouri magician that pulls a rabbit out of his hat at kids shows.

“Our country’s broke,” the newspaper quoted Hahne as saying. “And yet they have money and time to harass somebody about a rabbit.”

The rule was first proposed in 2006, after many animals were abandoned during Hurricane Katrina. And while six years in the making, the rule is now under review – apparently as a result of inquiries in the Post.

After first defending the regulation, USDA told the newspaper via email late Tuesday that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “asked that this be reviewed immediately and common sense be applied.”