Another Burton Sipp fire raises questions
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2011:
SPRINGFIELD, N.J.--A three-alarm fire killed two giraffes,
three dogs, four cats, and 15 parrots at the Animal Kingdom Pet
Store & Zoo on October 31, 2011 in Springfield Township, New
Jersey. About 20 puppies were reportedly rescued. Owner Burton K.
Sipp, 67, told George Mast of the Cherry Hill Courier Post that he
was in Arizona on horse racing business at the time of the fire. The
fire started at about 8:45 p.m., about half an hour after Sipp’s
brother George said a Halloween party in the store had ended.
“Some kind of explosion must have ignited it,” George Sipp
told Philadelphia Inquirer staff writer Darran Simon.
The fire came four days after the Animal Kingdom Pet Store &
Zoo was cited by the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service
for 19 alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Burton Sipp was also in Arizona on horse racing business on
April 11, 2011 when his wife Bridget Sipp, 43, was killed when she
rushed back into her blazing log house to try to rescue her mother,
Lenore Edwards, 68, not knowing Edwards had already escaped.
Burton Sipp told Lisa Coryell of the Trenton Times that the
house and store were underinsured, at about $300,000 for the house
and $150,000 for the store.
Burton Sipp started the Animal Kingdom Pet Store & Zoo with
his first wife Carol in 1985, while under indictment for allegedly
submitting inflated insurance claims on nine horses who died in his
care between 1980 and 1984. Burton Sipp in 1986 settled the charges
by plea-bargaining a five-year suspended sentence for witness
“Initiated by the FBI, the investigation centered around the
allegation that [Burton] Sipp had killed 41 horses in an insurance
fraud scheme,” according to an affidavit filed by then-New Jersey
attorney general Edward Rudley. Burton Sipp denied any part in
killing horses. Rudley prepared the affidavit for jockey John
D’Agusto, who sued Burton Sipp in connection with an attempted sting
Sipp allegedly helped to arrange, involving a scheme to fix races.
Four jockeys were indicted, but the indictments were thrown out of
court as alleged entrapment.
The attempted sting came after Burton Sipp allegedly forged a
scratch card at a race in Atlantic City in 1980, causing another
trainer’s horse to be withdrawn from the race. Sipp was suspended
from racing for 60 days, but was not criminally charged.
“His record is believed to include more violations than any
trainer in the history of racing,” wrote Bill Finley of the New York
Daily News in 1993. Burton Sipp surrendered his licenses to race
horses in 1994, but returned to racing in 2005.
Meanwhile a bull belonging to Burton Sipp fatally gored
passer-by Stanley Parker, 21, in 1986. In 1990 Burton Sipp was
indicted for allegedly staging a 1988 burglary at his pet store to
collect insurance on two purportedly stolen birds. Burton Sipp
repaid the insurance money.