Sunday, February 05, 2017

Animal welfare data does a disappearing act at the Department of Agriculture

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture has removed a slew of animal welfare data — including inspection records for institutions like zoos, laboratories and commercial breeders — from its website.
Previously, anyone could use a search tool on the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website to look up such information. The general public, as well as animal advocacy groups and journalists, could use the search function to see whether facilities had violated animal welfare regulations.
USDA APHIS attributed the change to concerns about privacy, adding in its announcement on Friday that the decision had come after a year of ‘comprehensive review.’ 
‘As a result of the comprehensive review, APHIS has implemented actions to remove certain personal information from documents it posts on APHIS’ website involving the Horse Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act,’ the agency said in a statement. ‘Going forward, APHIS will remove from its website inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports, and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication.’ [….]
APHIS says people seeking inspection reports and related information can make a request to the USDA through the Freedom of Information Act, which can be done here. But as ABC News points out, FOIA requests can be expensive, and it can take months or years to receive the requested information. Numerous animal advocacy groups slammed the change. [….]
The full article is here.

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