Why the Removal of USDA information Matters
I don’t get political on this site very often, but there are a few things I can’t forgive – every one of those things deals with those that hurt animals or kids.
So when the current government administration removed the database of laboratories and breeders from the USDA website last week, you can bet I’m going to be upset…
Here’s why this matters: In AZ (and OH, VA, MD, NJ, CT, LA and NYC), it’s illegal to sell puppies in pet stores unless they’re from a reputable breeder. This has not only allowed animal rescues to find amazing homes for millions of dogs and cats, but it’s helped (slowly) start to make an impact on the number of puppy mills around the nation.
Removing this critical information (all of which was gathered on the taxpayer’s dime), from a public website (also paid for by taxpayer dollars) means we can no longer look up anyone who sells puppies or kittens or horses or any other species, and see if they have any prior citations. We can’t look up laboratories that test on animals and their past citations. We can’t track lion breeders or tiger breeders or those who breed thousands of animals in the space of a year under disgusting conditions.
Now, I agree that the USDA has some really horrific ideals set at what constitutes a “decent breeder”. But, we’ve worked for years – YEARS – to get some kind of legislation, ANY type of legislative protection in place that protects consumers from bad breeders and protects animals from going through a horrific life in a cage. It’s a process, I get that, and in one fell swoop, without any consultation, announcement, press release or discussion, the Trump administration removed the only protection these animals had.
Protection that took YEARS to create.
Even though we still have laws in place in Arizona, New York City, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Louisiana, there is currently no way to enforce those laws. Sure, we can file a Freedom of Information Act request and wait for weeks, months, maybe even years, before getting a response.[load_module id=”595″]
So, what does this information provide? Our friends at The Conservation Cub Club sum this up nicely.
“USDA inspectors regularly visit facilities that keep animals and upload their inspection reports to the USDA website within a few months. These facilities are also required to file annual censuses declaring the number and species of animals in their care. These reports apply to approximately 7800 facilities that shelter animals. Research labs account for about 1200 of these facilities that are located a academic centers or run by government agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The act covers a range of animals from chimpanzees to dogs but does not cover laboratory mice.”[/blockquote]
Here’s what happened when the protection was in place:
A pet store would say they want to sell puppies or kittens. A vendor shows up. The pet store owner jumps on http://usda.gov and does a quick search for the name. Sees no citations, no reports filed on the group. So, hey – whatever, sell your puppies.
Here’s what happens now:
A pet store says they want to sell puppies or kittens. A vendor shows up. The pet store owner has no way to clear this vendor, no way to prove that there is a problem or isn’t a problem, so they just sell the puppies. Now the market opens up to thousands of disreputable dealers who are breeding animals in terrible conditions.
- Want to buy from a breeder? You don’t have protection either. You just have to assume that the dealer is legit or not legit. Sadly, this is why so many animals die or wind up in rescue.
- Want to see if a laboratory is legit? You can’t check on that either.
- Want to see if someone is testing on animals? Sorry, no record.
We have records like this in place for contractors who build our homes. We have them in place for pet sitters. We have them in place for doctors. Why wouldn’t we have them in place for breeders and laboratories?Wouldn’t you like to know if a company has a record of abusing animals? Wouldn’t you like to see if a breeder practices the bare minimum required to keep pets healthy?
The societal change and protection we finally have in place for animals is gone – and it was wiped out with a keystroke on the order of the Trump administration and I, for one, have reached my limit on playing nice…
Now that we can no longer access that information, we’re in serious trouble. Beyond that, if you voted for Trump because of his platform of “transparency”, this doesn’t seem like progress in the name of transparency. In fact it’s the opposite of transparency.
If you care about the things he campaigned on, the promises he made, or most importantly, the care of animals and the fact that we MUST have transparency in the animal care industry now more than ever, please contact your representatives. Here’s how you can do it easily and quickly.