We just learned that U.S. Department of Agriculture, on February 3, suddenly removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at federally licensed research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations (puppy mills) and other facilities.
The USDA cited court rulings and privacy laws for the decision.
The removed documents will now be accessible only via Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) requests, a cumbersome, expensive and slow process at best.
We have no idea whether this is a consequence of the new administration in Washington or the USDA bowing to pressure from businesses that profit from animals and resent being forced to treat them well.
It doesn’t matter to us.
What matters is that important hard data about the treatment of animals and the enforcement of federal laws to protect them are no longer readily available.
The records that had been available were frequently used by animal welfare advocates to monitor government regulation of animal treatment at puppy mills, circuses, scientific labs and zoos.
They provided important reliable information about these businesses that is useful for advocacy efforts and for the general public.
What can you do?
This is not as simple as advocating for or protesting against a piece of proposed legislation.
Administrative agencies like the USDA have broad discretion about how they go about fulfilling (or not fulfilling) their responsibilities.
That doesn’t mean you can’t “howl” in protest.
Both People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA.org) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS.org) have established online petitions to advocate for the reinstatement of access to this data.
Go there and sign up.
As we learn more about this issue we will keep you informed about other steps to take.
Let’s make the USDA website great again.
On a lighter note, how about celebrating your love of fur balls at the Fur Ball?
On April 29 from 6 to 11 p.m. at The American Foundry, 246 W. Seneca St., Oswego, there will be dinner and dancing, contests, a fabulous silent auction and more.
Invitations will be coming in February or go to our website to reserve a ticket online.
$60 per person or $100 per couple.
Or call our office to ask about sponsorship.
You know you’re a party animal!
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Located at 29 W. Seneca St., Oswego, NY.
Email: [email protected]
Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.