USDA Animal Records Eradicated, Green Lighting Puppy Mills
The Trump Administration is being challenged by HSUS for the government’s mass removal of the USDA animal violation records, with the Humane Society threatening to sue. Up until now, those who improperly cared for their animals was been legally controlled. Yet, secretly eradicating these records on February 3, 2017, has given the green light to animal abusers with no legal push-backs.
With the purging of the recent animal welfare information, it now prevents vital access to pet stores and the public. Unfortunately, the removed USDA animal violation records now give free reign to puppy mills, backyard breeders, and animal abusers who operate and sell to pet stores and online buyers.
Seven states and one city require by law that all pet stores check for animal welfare act violations through the USDA website before buying or selling puppies. Kennels with USDA violations have had to follow stricter regulations, regardless of the state involved. With the records eliminated, it is impossible for this law to be enacted for 57.8 million people in the following areas. Source: Rachel Maddow/MSNBC
- New Jersey
- New York City
Why were the USDA animal violation records pulled?
The current administration stated the decision was made due to the ‘USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cited court rulings and privacy laws for the decision, which it said was the result of “comprehensive review” that took place over the past year.’
“In 2016, well before the change of Administration, APHIS decided to make adjustments to the posting of regulatory records.” Source: Rachel Maddow/MSNBC.
However, USDA officials who had worked for that particular period stated this was not true. One such person was Matt Herrick, former USDA spokesman under the Obama Administration, who tweeted in response to the above statement on Sunday, February 5, 2017,
“Decision by @usda 2 remove animal abuse reports not required. Totally subjective. Same option given 2 past admin. We refused. #transparency “
According to the Seattle Times, another involved person is Obama’s agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, who appeared to not approve of the decision to remove the USDA animal violation records. On Sunday, the same day that Matt Herrick tweeted his response, a former USDA spokesman for Vilsack said on Twitter that the decision to remove the reports was “not required.”
Inability of puppy mills to previously pass USDA inspections
Before the USDA website removal, a lot of puppy mills were not able to pass inspection. Stricter laws and enforced regulations made the puppy mill business less profitable for many reasons. It was illegal to sell puppies unless they were: (1) from a reputable breeder, (2) registered under the USDA with a federal number, and (3) no USDA violations on inspection reports. Abusive breeders and puppy mills were listed on this website after every government inspection, allowing pet stores from all states to check whether the puppies had passed inspection regarding health certificates, shots, breeding records, and the quality of the breeding kennel.
The federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), passed in 1966, requires breeders who have more than three breeding female dogs and sell puppies to pet stores or puppy brokers to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
An amendment to the 2008 Farm Bill prohibits the importation of puppies less than six months of age for the purpose of resale. In August 2014, the USDA adopted regulations implementing the law at national ports of entry.Source: ASPCA
Areas involving the USDA Animal Violation Records
The USDA animal violation records are not just for dog breeders or puppy mills. According to World Animal News (WAN), they also “include reports from zoos, dog breeders, research laboratories, Sea World, Ringling Bros. Circus and other enforcement records about animal welfare from its website.” Animal testing labs were also included on this list. To make things even worse, the Trump Administration states that these violation records would now “be accessible only via Freedom of Information Act Requests.” Which, by the way, takes years to be approved.
But due to the public outcry since last Friday, things have rapidly changed. Seattle Times reports that the Trump Administration says, “adjustments may be made” regarding its previous decision to remove the USDA animal violation records.
Note: One of the top advisers to USDA from the Trump administration has been Brian Klippenstein, who comes from an animal agriculture group called Protect the Harvest.
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