The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to remove animal welfare and inspection reports on 9,000 licensed facilities from its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website is being met with protest from several directions.
Animal rights activists and commercial interests alike have derided the action, which has only added confusion and consternation to those expected to follow the Animal Welfare Act or Horse Protection Act, as well as those responsible for enforcing the laws.
The records redacted on Feb. 3 detail animal research labs, commercial dog breeding operators, roadside zoos, Tennessee walking horse show participants, and other operations that rely on USDA regulation.
On February 6, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, posted to the organization’s blog that the HSUS is seeking legal action against the USDA, maintaining the department is violating rules put into place in 2009.
“The HSUS sued the USDA in 2005 over public access to AWA reports concerning animal use in university and other laboratories. That case was settled in 2009 in exchange for the USDA’s agreement to post certain data on its website concerning research on animals,” Nacelle wrote. “The agency’s precipitous decision to purge virtually all AWA and HPA enforcement documentation – just two weeks after President Trump assumed office — violates the plain terms of the settlement and a federal court order. It also runs contrary to Congressional provisions in 1996 and 2016 designed to increase transparency and electronic access to information.”