Gifford’s Statement on USDA’s First Step to Restore Public Data

Gifford Cat Shelter responded to the USDA’s recent abrupt decision to purge from its website inspection reports on thousands of commercial dog breeding operators (puppy mills), Tennessee walking horse show participants, roadside zoos, animal research labs, and other facilities regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA).

Gifford joined the MSPCA, the HSUS, and other animal organizations throughout Massachusetts in demanding restoration of the records.

After an outpouring of anger and expressions of mistrust about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s abrupt decision to delete from its website inspection reports on some 9,000 licensed and registered facilities that use animals —  including commercial dog breeding operators, roadside zoos, animal research labs, and other operations regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act, such as Tennessee walking horse show participants — the USDA reposted a batch of documents.

At the Gifford Cat Shelter, we believe that the USDA’s reposting some annual reports and inspection data on animal research facilities is a step in the right direction toward transparency and upholding law. However, still missing are years of materials required to be posted as part of the agency’s 2009 settlement with The Humane Society of the United States, as well as additional materials and inspection reports for many research laboratories that use animals, puppy mills, zoos, horse soring scofflaws, and others whose activities are the subject of enforcement records related to the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act. The restoration of the rest of the data has been demanded by Gifford Cat Shelter and many other animal welfare organizations, industry groups and regulated businesses, transparency proponents and a bipartisan group of more than 100 Members of Congress.

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