The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced today that it “will remove from its website inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports, and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication.” In a bulletin posted on govdelivery.com, APHIS said that this was the outcome of a comprehensive review during the past year of the information it posts publicly and that it “has implemented actions to remove certain personal information from documents it posts on APHIS’ website involving the Horse Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act.”
The Associated Press quoted a USDA spokeswoman as saying that the information was removed from the site around 11 a.m. Friday, but noted that she would not say if the removal was temporary or permanent in the new Trump administration. AP says that the information is used by advocacy groups and other members of the public to look up information on commercial dog and horse breeders, some of whom have had a history of abuse. The AP story quotes John Goodwin, who runs the Stop Puppy Mills Campaign at The Humane Society of the United States: “What the USDA has done is given cover to people who neglect or harm animals and get cited by USDA inspectors.”
The reports, which were once public, are now only potentially available through FOIA requests. The Services says “Those seeking information from APHIS regarding inspection reports, research facility annual reports, regulatory correspondence, lists of regulated entities, and enforcement related matters may submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for that information.”
- Updates to APHIS’ Website Involving Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act Compliance Information, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (02/03/2017)
- USDA removes animal welfare reports from its website By Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press, Minneapolis StarTribune (Feb. 3, 2017)
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