In an attempt to keep the public in the dark about companies or people who have violated animal-welfare laws or hurt animals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has abruptly removed from its website all inspection reports and information about laboratories, circuses, roadside zoos, breeders, and other facilities that confine animals and use them for profit.

In May 2016, the USDA released the findings of its inspection of Holmes Farm, a facility that supplied animals to Petco and PetSmart. The agency’s report included violations such as denying animals veterinary care, leaving decomposing dead animals in bins with live ones, and having an ammonia stench so strong that it burned federal agents’ eyes and noses. This type of information will no longer be available to the public through the USDA’s website.

For more than a decade, the USDA’s site has listed information about the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Horse Protection Act as well as federally registered and licensed facilities that have long histories of violations and have caused animals terrible suffering. And now, it’ll be difficult for the public to know where and how animals are hurt and neglected.

According to the USDA, people can still get information about animal-welfare violations by submitting a Freedom of Information Act request—however, that process is complicated and can take months or even years.

Many people learned about the cruelty behind circuses in 2011, when the USDA slapped Ringling Bros. with the largest penalty in history after the circus violated the AWA. But now, the public will be kept in the dark about these types of violations.

According to the Star Tribune, a spokesperson for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wouldn’t say whether the removal was temporary or permanent.

Public taxes fund the USDA, and the public should NOT be kept in the dark because the feds would rather shield animal abusers than hold them accountable.

Our legal team is fighting back and we need your help to let the USDA know that this is unacceptable. We will keep you updated on what happens. It’s more important than ever to stay away from any industry or outfit that uses animals for profit, such as roadside zoos, aquariums, circuses, and breeders.

 

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