Information on animal welfare disappears from USDA website
Information on the treatment of animals at thousands of laboratories, zoos, dog breeding groups and other facilities was suddenly removed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website Friday, The Washington Post reported.
The decision was a result of “comprehensive review” over the last year, according to a statement by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The removed information is now only accessible after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.
“We remain equally committed to being transparent and responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals with whom we come in contact,” the statement said.
The documents removed included information on dog breeders, treatment of animals in circuses and other information that was previously readily available.
Those records were frequently used by animal welfare advocates to monitor government regulation of animal treatment. Journalists have used the documents to expose violations at universities.
The removal of the documents has raised concerns of animal welfare advocates.
“The USDA action cloaks even the worst puppy mills in secrecy and allows abusers of Tennessee walking horses, zoo animals and lab animals to hide even the worst track records in animal welfare,” John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign, told the Post.
According to the report, it was unclear whether the new decision was influenced by newly appointed President Trump’s administration officials.
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