Hollywood animal coordinator Sidney Jay Yost – the animal trainer on Sean Penn’s Into the Wild and whose Amazing Animal Productions has a resume of films that includes Get Out, Jack Reacher 2, Logan, Django Unchained, The Hunger Games, 12 Years a Slave, Ant-Man and TV shows like Better Call Saul and Walking Dead – has been hit with $30,000 in fines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the Animal Welfare Act. His exhibitor’s license was also revoked, barring him from supplying animals to future productions.
Yost and Amazing Animal Productions filed an appeal on Jan. 16, stating that the Department failed to take testimony and called the civil fines “excessive, arbitrary and capricious.” Yost also said that “the Government was clearly out to destroy” him and he is refusing “to succumb to the Government tactics.”
In a 22-page written Decision/Order from the U.S. Agriculture Dept., Yost is cited for incidents dating back to 2008, including a violation on handling a 125-pound lion cub on The Tonight Show which was held on a leash with what the Government cited over improper “distance and/or public barrier,” and another in Utica, Illinois that resulted in a two-year old child being bit on the face and neck and head and rushed to the hospital with the wolf/dog hybrid named Nova having to be euthenized.
In that instance, Yost’s attorney in the appeal laid blame on both the venue for how they set it up and also the child (victim’s) parent for failing to stay in their seats during a performance (they had to go to the bathroom).
Regarding The Tonight Show incident, Yost’s appeal argues over the words “and/or” and say that neither the audience nor the animal were in jeopardy during the taping as they had sufficient restraints and a grab ring on the animal with “three burly men in perfect control” of the lion cub.
Other violations were for the use of a cane on an animal’s nose in Yost’s training to staff about how to handle emergencies, and public displays without the necessary distance and/or barriers as required between buffering the public from possible harm if animals would get loose.
The decision was handed down last month. It appears that Yost and his legal reps fought vigorously to defend themselves throughout the past 10 years with each new violation that the Dept. cited but to no avail. Yost and his company Amazing Animal Productions must start paying the $30,000 in fines beginning in March of this year and they have five years to pay it off.
“The matter is on appeal and therefore, the decision is not yet final,” said Yost’s attorney James White.
You can read U.S. government decision on the revocation and fines here.