In early February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) removed all inspection reports and records pertaining to private businesses and government funded facilities that included reports on invasive animal research, puppy mill neglect, and cruelty and negligence in circuses, aquariums, slaughterhouses, animal transport, and zoos from its website. Millions of animals have been thrown into darkness and urgently need your help.
It took years of public outcry, efforts by humane organizations, and the influence of legislators to move the USDA to establish this data base for "public records." When In Defense of Animals took on two Mississippi USDA licensed Class B animal dealers in February of 1993, it took until August of 1993 to force the USDA to shut them down. In Defense of Animal relied on the archaic Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request the USDA inspection reports that revealed that both dealers had been cited more than 750 times each for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the undercover work of now Justice for Animals Campaign Director, Doll Stanley.
The Animal Welfare Act was instituted to oversee the use and treatment of animals in federal and private business, and employs minimum standards of care, housing, and treatment for some animals, yet exempts mice, rats, birds, fish, and "farmed" animals who are to be eaten or worn except the handling of "farmed" animals during transport.
Under pressure from humane societies, legislators, and others, the USDA has posted a fraction of the 17 years of data it has accumulated pertaining to the 9,000 facilities it's been responsible for overseeing. These records report on government funded research facilities, but private commercial interests that exhibit, slaughter, use animals in product testing, and other cruel and potentially cruel testing are running under the radar of the American public and the trusted humane organizations that have been the watchdogs of the exploiters and torturers of animals.
Six national animal advocacies have sued the USDA to force "our" government agency to do the job that we have mandated, and that is to oversee the use of animals by these exploiters, and reveal violations and penalties enforced by the agency, as well as restoring the vital data base. In 2015 alone, over 800,000 animals were used in "research," with 40% who were subjected to painful procedures. There's no telling how many suffered neglect and death
We applaud writer, anthropologist, and independent watchdog, Russ Kirk of Arizona, for collecting thousands of the missing documents to post on his website, TheMemoryHole2.org, purposed to preserve vital government data.
Some minds theorize that the closing of Ringling Brothers after years of AWA violations may have been the catalyst for a "business oriented" government to choose to hide cruelty and abuse from the American public, while others point to a lawsuit filed by Tennessee Walking Horse exploiters. Most certainly, President Trump's transition team, including Brian Klippenstein, executive director of Protect the Harvest, a Missouri based group ardently fighting animal welfare protections, was responsible for hiding public records from the public.
The good news is that legislators are turning up the heat on the USDA to reinstate the data system. One such lawmaker is Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), who has spoken out against the records purge while calling it a non-partisan issue and stating, "It's kind of an island of sanity and progress in the midst of some pretty choppy political waters. Fighting for it is the right thing to do."
Won't you join us in keeping the heat on President Trump to mandate that the "servants" of the public he entrusts with our interests give us transparency instead of cloaking the dirty business of special interest cronies? Please make a phone call and send our letter.
1) Call the White House and be the voice for the animals. Demand that USDA inspection reports and vital data be posted, available to all Americans, on the USDA website.
White House Comments Line: (202) 456-1111
2) Write to President Trump by sending our letter.
Don't Let Criminals Hide Under USDA Blackout
Dear [Decision Maker],
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]
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