The USDA has shockingly removed all animal welfare inspection reports from zoos, dog breeders, research laboratories, Sea World, Ringling Bros. Circus and other enforcement records about animal welfare from its website.
The important information was deleted from the USDA’s database on Friday and it is not said if it will be permanent or added back to the site any time soon. This is not without major upset from animal welfare organizations and advocates who feel that they have just lost decades of momentum in the fight for the protection of all animals.
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. It said the removed documents, which also included records of enforcement actions against violators of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, would now be accessible only via Freedom of Information Act Requests. Those can take years to be approved.
The statement said, “We remain equally committed to being transparent and responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals with whom we come in contact.”
“This information is crucial to the work we dedicate our lives to in animal welfare and must be transparent and available to the public if we are going to improve the welfare of animals. It is our government’s job to supply such imperative information in regards to animal welfare violations, animal abuse and neglect, and inspection reports without question.” Said Katie Cleary, President of Peace 4 Animals.
Ironically the deleted information comes just two days after Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., introduced a bill to require more public information on animal testing. The bill is backed by a group called the White Coat Waste Project, which seeks to reduce the amount of federal dollars spent on that testing. Interesting, don’t you think?