On Friday, February 3, 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture abruptly removed thousands of documents, research, & data once available to the public, law enforcement, & animal welfare agencies from its website.
The information that is no longer available was used to ensure standards & protocols that protect the health & safety of animals. For example, guidelines in the Horse Protection Act (which protects horses from being hurt in shows) were part of the USDA online purge.
With the information now purged, the USDA & APHIS (Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service ) recommends that any person or organization seeking reports or data should apply for a Freedom of Information Act request.
The decision has outraged many, particularly those who protect the rights of animals. Public taxes fund these agencies & the public should not be kept the dark.
The Humane Society of the United State’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign relies on that data to put together reports & studies. Most shocking, is that when the data was purged, the USDA did not take into consideration that law enforcement agencies in seven states relied on that information to enforce laws in place that say pet stores cannot acquire puppies from commercial breeders that have animal welfare violations. In short, this means that the worst violators of puppy breeding could potentially get away with unlawful practices.
It is of the utmost urgency that the USDA puts the data back up on its website, since gathering information through the Freedom of Information Act can take up to a year. In the cases of violating these pet store sourcing laws, the statute of limitations will have come & gone by the time local agencies get the information. The purge of this information is going to help no one except people who abuse animals.
The Humane Society of the United States, as well as all animal-related industries who want to remain up to legal standards must push for the USDA to reverse this reckless decision. You can do your part, send a call to action online. In addition, Americans can write or call their representatives & senators urging them to reverse this terrible decision.
CEO Olivia ❤