ASPCA files lawsuit against USDA for removing animal welfare records


ASPCA files lawsuit against USDA for removing animal welfare records
Photo courtesy of the ASPCA.

The USDA is endangering animals unethically bred, housed and studied by refusing to release inspection and enforcement records – and the ASPCA is taking action.

On May 23, 2018, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for refusing to release critical animal welfare records. Early last year, the USDA removed thousands of inspection reports of various zoos, research labs and commercial dog breeders. These records had been available online to the public for years, and their removal makes it impossible for the public to know which facilities are operating in violation of federal animal protection laws.

After the removal of these records, the USDA publicly asserted that they could still be obtained by submitting a Freedom of Information Act request. But such requests made by the ASPCA proved this to be untrue. According to the USDA, the requested records are “exempt from disclosure”, despite having been publicly accessible prior to removal. “The USDA’s delays and deliberate omissions in making these records accessible severely hamper our efforts to advocate for dogs languishing in deplorable puppy mills,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “The ASPCA’s lawsuit is crucial to preserve the FOIA process and gain access to these government records, which is critical to protecting animal welfare.”

Blacked out animal welfare report from USDA
Records the ASPCA received as a result of their FOIA requests were heavily redacted with all relevant information, including breeder names, addresses, federal license numbers, inspection dates and in some cases the entire substance of the inspection reports, completely blacked out. Image courtesy of the ASPCA.

Visit aspca.org/barred-from-love to learn how you can help end unethical dog breeding.

Records the ASPCA received as a result of their FOIA requests were heavily redacted with all relevant information, including breeder names, addresses, federal license numbers, inspection dates and in some cases the entire substance of the inspection reports, completely blacked out. Image courtesy of the ASPCA.

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