US department orders Pittsburgh zoo to stop using dogs to control elephants, protect handlers

The federal government has ordered the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium to stop using dogs to help control its elephants and protect human handlers.

The inspection report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture was released Monday by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA complained about the practice late last year.

According to the Jan. 7 inspection report, the zoo was ordered to stop using the dogs immediately.

Zoo spokeswoman Tracy Gray says the facility is preparing a public response to the government's findings.

The inspection report shows a USDA official found that dogs growled and lunged at the elephants. It says the dogs sometimes bit them, "which may cause undue stress to the elephants."

The USDA says the zoo must control the elephants without causing them "behavioral stress."