Tell the USDA to stop hiding animal cruelty from American taxpayers
I was absolutely shocked to hear that the United States Department of Agriculture removed public animal welfare inspection reports and annual reports related to the Animal Welfare Act from its website. These reports contain information about thousands of puppy mills, roadside zoos, and animal testing facilities. If you want the federal government to stop hiding animal cruelty, please sign this petition telling the USDA to make these taxpayer-funded documents public once again!
I spent the last decade working on animal cruelty cases all over the country. One of my proudest accomplishments was creating Missouri’s Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit through the Attorney General’s office. With the help of state and federal animal welfare inspectors, I shut down more than forty puppy mills, so I know these reports are crucial when it comes to holding animal abusers accountable. Additionally, when the USDA database was public, commercial dog breeders had an incentive to treat their animals well; consumers could choose good actors over animal abusers through a simple search.
As of Friday, that is no longer the case. Because of these very recent changes, the public will no longer be able to learn about:
- Puppy mill inspection reports to assess living conditions--and risk of disease or injury--for commercially bred puppies sold online and in pet stores,
- Animal Welfare Act violations at roadside zoos and traveling circuses before deciding whether or not to take your children to see the elephants, lions, chimpanzees, and tigers kept there,
- Reports from larger entertainment companies like SeaWorld about how orcas, polar bears, and other animals are treated,
- Illegal actions in laboratories doing experiments on monkeys, dogs, and cats, and
- Behind-the-scenes abuse by horse trainers.
Until Friday, February 3rd, any member of the public, including concerned consumers, law enforcement professionals, students and researchers, and nonprofit animal protection organizations, was able to access Animal Welfare Act records on the United States Department of Agriculture’s website. That’s no longer the case for information previously found on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) database. The public’s only alternative is submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to APHIS, which often takes months--if not years--to work through the system.
This is not a partisan political issue. We all know animals deserve to be treated well, and we all want to make sure American taxpayers have a transparent government. There is no logical explanation to make it harder for consumers to choose healthy animals or inform the public about persistent animal abuse. The only reason the government would take such an action is because of pressure from those who profit from cruelty to animals. In their minds, what the public doesn’t know can’t hurt them.
Let’s show them public concern is more powerful than corporate animal abuse lobbying!
Please tell the USDA, your members of Congress, and the White House to restore the USDA database in the interests of consumer protection, animal welfare, and government accountability!