Prevent self-policing under the Animal Welfare Act

Photo by Tramper2/

In December, the USDA announced it would consider using the results of private inspections when determining the frequency of federal inspections needed to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This decision would affect USDA-regulated facilities, including thousands of puppy mills, wildlife exhibitors and research labs. In other words, the agency may hand off power to the regulated community to decide which facilities warrant USDA oversight, a move that would essentially lead to industry self-policing. This would be devastating to the welfare of animals kept in these facilities, where AWA enforcement is already subpar.

Incredibly, USDA is proposing this despite having first-hand experience with this failed experiment. The agency already uses private third parties to inspect horses for soring, a cruel training practice that has been illegal for decades, but persists in large part due to federal outsourcing of inspections.

Don't let this happen again. Please write to USDA and express your opposition to the use of private third-party inspections to enforce animal welfare laws.

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Your Message

DearMr. Tuck,

I strongly object to the USDA using the results of third-party inspections to help determine the frequency of federal inspections needed at specific facilities including puppy mills, wildlife exhibitors, and laboratories to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. There are numerous problems with third-party inspections, including conflicts of interest that cause private inspectors to ignore violations, inspectors' ignorance of the law USDA is responsible for enforcing, and the absence of public transparency and accountability. The public would have no way of knowing if a puppy mill or other operation passed its third-party inspection, remaining accredited by a self-interested entity that collects dues from its members, and then bypassed USDA inspections because of its supposedly clean record.

Private, industry-lead inspections have contributed to the persistence of horse soring for decades, as found by the USDA's own Inspector General in its 2010 audit of the agency's Horse Protection Act enforcement. Please learn from that failed experiment and don't repeat the same mistake, which will harm animals and shortchange taxpayers, who expect the agency to carry out its responsibilities under the AWA.

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This action alert is for U.S. residents. International advocates, please visit Humane Society International.

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