Photo by Brandon Wade/AP Images for The HSUS
Animal welfare advocates rely on the transparency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to publicly post regular inspection reports on thousands of commercial dog breeding operators, Tennessee Walking horse show participants, roadside zoos, aquariums, circuses, research labs, and other facilities regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA).
On February 3, 2017, the USDA purged its website of all these reports with no warning or explanation. This outrageous action undermines longstanding consensus about public access to information concerning these laws and frustrates public interest, state, local, and industry efforts to help enforce them.
Animals held in research facilities and puppy mills are shielded from public view, therefore these records are essential to ensure that these dogs and other animals are receiving basic care.
While some reports have subsequently been reposted due to an outpouring of anger, the USDA has redacted most identifying information so that the reports are essentially useless to the public. The puppy mill inspection reports the USDA is now uploading have no names or license numbers on them and thus provide no helpful information to consumers who are trying to buy a pet from a clean, legal and humane facility.
The USDA has a lot more to do here. Your voice is needed to ensure that these records are fully restored.