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Animal Welfare Records Removed from USDA Website

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The pet industry is voicing concerns.

Reports on animal welfare inspections are no longer available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, Marketplace.org reports.

Certain enforcement records were also removed.

According to the news site, the data was used by various groups and individuals to “track any potential history of abuses on the part of animal testing labs and commercial dog and horse breeders.”

The agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that it would remove documents “that contain personal information covered by the Privacy and Freedom of Information Acts or guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding them.” That includes “inspection reports, research facility annual reports, regulatory correspondence (such as official warnings), lists of regulated entities, and enforcement records (such as pre-litigation settlement agreements and administrative complaints) that have not received final adjudication.”

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The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) said in an alert that it recently met with Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service officials in Washington, DC, “to express industry concerns and to clarify USDA’s anticipated path forward.”

PIJAC stated in the alert: “PIJAC is extremely concerned by this policy change because we believe that transparency is good for the responsible pet industry and because it is what consumers expect. We are further concerned that ready access to USDA inspection reports is a key component to sourcing restrictions that we support in lieu of pet sale bans to demonstrate that pet stores are using responsible breeders. We expect that this policy change will complicate discussions with lawmakers on several sourcing restriction bills and will be used as an argument to promote outright sales bans.”

According to PIJAC, the officials made clear that “they do not expect to be making inspection reports publicly available, even in a redacted format, in the near future without a Freedom of Information Act request.”

Read more at Marketplace.org

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