Today marks one month since USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service removed from its website the vast library of documents detailing the quality of animal care in facilities regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA). This information blackout has thrust animal welfare advocates, state and local governments, and consumers into the dark, leaving them unable to research past and current incidents of animal cruelty at puppy mills, certain horse competitions, zoos and animal research labs.
Although USDA has restored a tiny fraction of the purged information, it continues to keep thousands of documents hidden from the public, including many dog breeder inspection reports and documented enforcement actions taken against facilities with violations.
Thankfully, members of Congress are listening to the public outcry and are taking action to ensure USDA keeps the public informed on animal welfare enforcement.
The Animal Welfare Accountability and Transparency Act, introduced this week by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would compel USDA to restore open, online access to this important information. The bill takes an additional step for animal protection by preventing AWA- and HPA-violators from taking advantage of certain tax benefits—this ensures that American taxpayers won’t further subsidize animal cruelty.
We will let you know when it’s time to contact your legislators on behalf of this bill—but in the interim, it’s not too late to express your dissent directly to the agency at the middle of this controversy. Speak up for animals in puppy mills, zoos and elsewhere by signing our petition to USDA.