Following a flurry of complaints and public outrage, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last Friday its decision to begin reinstating some of the inspection reports it had deleted earlier this month.
Annual reports of animal research institutions and inspection reports for certain federal research labs are among the information reposted to the depleted database. Reports pertaining to puppy mills and zoos are among the documents still missing.
“When it comes to protecting animals and potential pets, the Trump administration’s USDA has just dropped the ball by doing away with access to information that safeguards vulnerable animals and outs abusive puppy mills,” said United States Sen. Charles Schumer of New York; who along with Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, wrote a letter appealing to the agency to replace the data that aids in uncovering inhumane establishments.
A statement posted on the USDA website Friday, February 17, 2017, explained that the entire database was removed as part of an ongoing review of the agency’s online publications. Previously, the agency claimed the purge was about trying to balance the need for transparency with personal privacy.
Responsible for inspecting approximately 9,000 facilities per year, the USDA hinted that more reports may be reposted on its website in the near future.
“The agency will continue to review records and determine which information is appropriate for reposting,” the agency said noting that the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is “committed to ensuring the welfare of animals.”
While some animal welfare organizations such as HSUS feel this is a “a step in the right direction,” others such as PETA disagree, claiming the agency is only “attempting to get away with reposting only a tiny fraction of the animal welfare records.”
Source: Associated Press
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