On Feb. 3, the United States Department of Agriculture caused a furor among animal lovers when the agency removed from its website a searchable public database containing inspection reports about animal-related facilities.
As a result, the public can no longer obtain information about potentially unscrupulous breeders, who may be abusing animals. This also enables pet stores that sell puppy and kitten mill pets to remain under the public radar, and to sell these pets with impunity.
According to the ASPCA, the information included reports about approximately 1,000 facilities regulated by the Animal Welfare Act, which also pertains to zoos and research labs, in addition to commercial pet breeding operations. A petition being circulated by the ASPCA states: “A searchable database of inspection reports for commercial dog breeders was purged, as well as information documenting enforcement actions taken against them.”
The USDA states in an announcement on its website that these measures were taken out of “an abundance of caution” in response to ongoing litigation against the agency by unknown parties, in deference to the Privacy Act. Those who wish to obtain information about animal facilities must now submit Freedom of Information Act requests, which may or may not be granted.
The ASPCA has called out the USDA, further stating in the petition: “Your tax dollars paid for these inspections, and there’s no reason this documentation should be hidden — unless the USDA is protecting cruel industries that genuinely have something to hide.”
In addition to the SPCA, change.org is also circulating a petition in protest of this. I beseech my readers to sign these and any other related petitions. I sure as heck did!