USDA removes animal welfare reports from website

USDA removes animal welfare reports from website

USDA removes animal welfare reports from website
February 19
20:41 2017

On Feb. 3, the United States Department of Agriculture removed investigation and animal welfare violations reports on several laboratories, animal farms, zoos and “puppy mills” from their website, which has been open to the public for over a decade.

On Feb. 9, reporter Chad Shelby published an article called “Petition calls for transparency after USDA removes online animal welfare reports.” The Human Society of the United States began an online petition, pleading to the USDA to repost the deleted files back onto their website. The USDA gave a statement to Shelby, saying this current situation is not yet final and “adjustments are being made regarding information appropriate for release and posting.”

Even though they explained why these files were removed and whether or not they plan on reposting them is still unclear, why, all of a sudden, do they feel the need to hide these reports from the public? The USDA has now announced that if citizens would like to see these reports they must go through the process of filing a Freedom of Information Act request, which can take months to be approved.

The removal of these investigation reports will allow any U.S. commercial animal facility to feel free to treat animals in any way they want without the risk of being exposed to the public. This will allow animal mistreatment to continue. This puts reporters and investigative journalists at a disadvantage while trying to keeping the public informed, and keeps the public in the dark of when it comes to knowing if zoos are in violation of mistreating their animals.

In Feb. 2016, a lawsuit was issued onto the USDA for the mistreatment of a show horse named Royal Dollar. His owners were accused of injuring him to better his performance.

According to The Washington Post,  the famous horse is well known for his high-stepping gait. But enthusiasts said his high-stepping gait is only a result from injuring the animal. The owners, Lee and Mike McGartland, have reserved several warnings from 2013 to 2016 about their horse injuries and are now found in violation of the Horse Protection Act.

Royal Dollar was entered in the 74th annual Red Carpet Show of the South. On show day, a veterinarian officer of the USDA attended and during the post show expectation the “veterinary officer determined that the Royal Dollar was sore,” placing yet another warning on the McGartlands. As a result, the USDA is being held responsible for the owner’s actions.

The removal of the record may have some of us wondering what the USDA intentions are to putting a stop to animal abuse within the industry. Facilities like SeaWorld, the Ringling Brothers circus, DEW Haven Zoo and the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Louisiana were all reported to be in violation of animal cruelty. Hopefully, they will be held accountable for their crimes by the USDA.

Preventing people from knowing the truth of whether or not an industry is under investigation of animal mistreatment will not give us peace of mind, it will only infuriate citizens when the truth does come out, causing more suspicion of what other secrets lays with in our government. Trust cannot be gained from keeping secrets. It only causes more problems.

Featured Illustration: Antonio Mercado

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Bethany Wallace

Bethany Wallace

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