Organization Joins Other Humane Groups to Pressure USDA to Restore Public Access to Animal Welfare Act Inspection, Violation Reports
BOSTON, June 8, 2017– Members of the MSPCA-Angell’s Advocacy team are in Washington D.C. today to testify as part of a bipartisan briefing regarding the removal of key animal inspection and violation reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Website which hampers efforts to protect animals in Massachusetts.
WHAT and WHEN
The briefing, which takes place Thursday, June 8 at noon at the Capital Visitor Center, follows the USDA’s February decision to remove public access to the Animal Care Information System, a searchable online database that includes inspection and enforcement records of the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
MSPCA Advocacy Director Kara Holmquist and Deputy Director Laura Hagen will join other high-profile organizations to lobby for open government, animal protection, research transparency, and consumer protection.
The Animal Care Information System—created and operated for years with taxpayer funding—is a critical tool used by the public to verify which regulated facilitates are in compliance with federal law, and whether the USDA is properly enforcing the HPA and AWA.
The briefing is sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in cooperation with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. Members of the media and the public are invited to attend the briefing, which will take place in Room SVC 212-10.
In addition to the MSPCA, speakers will include representatives from the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Harvard Law School. In addition to Sen. Wyden, the committee will include Congressmen Earl Bluemnauer (D-OR) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL).
The MSPCA, as well as other animal rescue organizations in Massachusetts, have gone toe-to-toe with the USDA regulated entities (pet stores, breeders, etc.) many times in recent years over lax enforcement and repeated violations of the AWA.
“The scrubbing of inspection and violation reports from the USDA Website is potentially devastating for thousands of animals in Massachusetts who rely on aggressive enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to ensure their basic health and safety,” said Hagen. “The safety of these animals is directly linked to the ability of groups like ours to access records about their care which have since February been hidden from immediate public view.”