The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA inspects puppy mills, traveling animal acts, animal testing labs, roadside zoos, etc. for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA). The USDA inspects over 9,000 licensed facilities with animals in the U.S., almost 150 of which are in Michigan. Under the Trump Administration, many inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, enforcement actions and other information will no longer be posted on the USDA’s website. This information is required to be posted online due to the settlement of a lawsuit with The Humane Society of the United States. The USDA is a public agency doing inspections for the good of the public. So, obviously these animal welfare inspection reports should be public. What is the point of doing inspections if the information isn’t made public?
These reports are important to consumers to do research before buying a dog at a pet store or breeder. They’re also important to state agencies, local governments, the media, legislators, and animal welfare organizations. For example, local municipalities have puppy mill laws that depend on the USDA documents. Legislators use the documents to write new laws.
What this means is we won’t even know how many animals or the kinds of animals research institutions have in their possession. Not posting the documents will also allow the walking horse show industry to hide its cruelty to horses. It will allow abuses at roadside zoos to go unnoticed. It’s a gift to special interests.
Brian Klippenstein, executive director of Protect the Harvest, is leading Trump’s transition team at the USDA. According to Protect the Harvest’s website, its purpose is to inform “America’s consumers, businesses and decision-makers about the threats posed by animal rights groups and anti-farming extremists.” It’s very suspicious that the USDA decided to be less transparent on animal cruelty inspection reports under the Trump Administration when Klippenstein was put in charge.
Brian Klippenstein should not be managing the transition team for the USDA with his major conflict of interest. All USDA inspection reports must be made public again on the USDA’s website.