Friday, February 10, 2017

ASPCA urges USDA to restore public access to animal inspection reports

The ASPCA is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reverse its decision to remove public documents from its website related to the inspection of facilities licensed under the federal Animal Welfare Act, including zoos, commercial dog breeders and research labs.

The removal of these materials from the USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service website will enable those who wish to operate undetected to profit from the mistreatment of animals.

“The ASPCA has deep concerns about the impact of the USDA’s decision to reverse a decade-long commitment to transparency by removing Animal Welfare Act inspection and enforcement records from its website. Obstructing access to this vital data endangers the lives and safety of animals the USDA should be committed to protecting,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO. 

“Advocates, consumers, and state governments who have long relied on these inspection reports to identify and respond to violations of the Animal Welfare Act will now face extended delays and obstacles that can prove harmful to vulnerable animals. We need to hold animal abusers accountable, not provide them better cover. For the sake of vulnerable dogs, horses, and other animals who need and deserve our protection, we strongly urge USDA to reverse its position and make this information easily accessible once again.”

The ASPCA has used the USDA’s inspection reports for years to monitor the commercial dog breeding industry, as well as the USDA’s enforcement of AWA violations. In addition to educating the public on the inhumane conditions commonly found at USDA-licensed breeders, the reports are a valuable tool in passing laws to better protect breeding dogs.

Because a recent trend in state legislation has been to enact laws that rely on AWA violations to weed out “bad actors” by prohibiting the sale of dogs from facilities with serious, documented violations, preventing consumers, pet stores and the public from readily accessing this information makes it nearly impossible to comply with these laws and to ensure that they are being enforced

To raise awareness of the cruel conditions found in puppy mills, the ASPCA has a tool on their “No Pet Store Puppies” website that links pet stores with the USDA-licensed commercial dog breeders that supply them with puppies. The database features over 21,000 photos taken during routine USDA inspections, allowing the public to see first-hand where pet store puppies really come from.

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