February 21st, 2017
Why has the USDA website gone dark on important information that is used to save the lives of animals?
Earlier this month, animal inspection reports and enforcement actions were abruptly removed from the USDA website. No warning. Just dark.
Without providing much explanation other than citing a vague privacy concern, the U.S. government has made the USDA website radically less useful to animal welfare advocates, journalists, investigators and concerned citizens. The privacy concern is obviously bunk as the USDA redacts any sensitive information anyhow!
Is the “privacy” of commercial businesses really more important than animal welfare and the free release of information? After all, we the people own this information. These reports are the work of government employees, and we pay their salaries. It’s not classified information, so the mysterious reasons for removing it from the USDA website can’t possibly be honorable.
Information about the inspections of labs, zoos, breeding facilities and factory farms has been available on the website for decades. We don’t know the true reason why it was removed, but we do know why it should be put back.
Why is it important to repost the deleted animal inspection reports and enforcement actions on the USDA website?
Gone is the quick access to information that can be used to help protect animals, and this could embolden animal abusers.
If animal rescue groups don’t know about animals, such as dogs, being released from laboratories, they can’t offer to rescue them and find them homes.
People purchasing dogs from breeders no longer have quick access to inspection reports. Puppy mills must love this.
Animals could potentially die, or endure suffering longer than they otherwise would have suffered. The same information that was for many years freely, quickly available online can now only be obtained via an official request under the Freedom of Information Act. Once the request is made, it can take months to receive the information!
What can you do to end the USDA blackout?
Sign petitions, and hold your government representatives responsible for restoring the reports! Complain, complain, complain to anyone who will listen. Make this a big deal, because it is.
Here are a couple of petitions you can sign to end the USDA Blackout:
ASPCA petition : https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/usda-puppy-mill-reports-petition
Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) official White House petition : https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reverse-usdas-blackout-information-related-animals-labs
Happy signing and complaining! You’re doing it for the defenseless.
Image credits: Dog drawing from page 276 of “The foxhound of the twentieth century: the breeding and work of the kennels of England” (1914); rabbit drawing from page 439 of “St. Nicholas [serial]” (1873); cat drawing from page 99 of “Our domestic animals, their habits, intelligence and usefulness” (1907).
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