05 March 2017

WELFARE - Bill Tabled to Compel Transparency as USDA Reposts Some Animal Welfare Data

The backlash from the USDA’s removal of animal welfare information from its website has resulted in the organization restoring some of that information to its site.

Still missing are the majority of reports from regular inspections of animal-holding facilities that are monitored under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including puppy producers and zoos.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, stated in a release: “This is an important turnaround and a good start, but the USDA has a lot more to do here. Lawmakers, the press, animal advocates, and even the regulated community want transparency and accessible records.”

The USDA’s purging of its site resulted in a variety of organizations suing them.

A group of 18 senators wrote a letter to the USDA voicing their concerns about the removal of information and 101 members of congress sent a letter to the President stating: “We join a broad coalition of organizations - from animal welfare groups to pet store chains, biomedical research groups, and accredited zoos and aquariums - in urging the agency to restore comprehensive online, searchable access to these documents immediately in order to maintain ongoing transparency.”

This week the Animal Welfare Accountability and Transparency Act was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

This bill would compel the USDA to restore open, online access to information detailing the quality of animal care in facilities regulated by the Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act (HPA).

The bill takes an additional step for animal protection by preventing AWA and HPA violators from taking advantage of certain tax benefits.

Individuals who are concerned about the removal of the information are still being urged by the ASPCA to sign their petition as they watch the progress of the bill. 

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