Sourcing privacy laws, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has erased items such as animal inspection reports and enforcement filings from its website.
Animal rights groups use the information in order to inspect breeders and other owners for past instances of abuse.
USDA spokesperson Tanya Espinosa, representing the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the changes took place at 11 a.m. Friday but would not say whether or not the withholding of information was ordered by the Trump administration.
A statement on the department’s website confirms that the USDA is “implementing actions to remove documents” related to the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act has replaced an extensive database of personal information.
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The statement further reads that the database’s forfeiture is “… based on [the USDA’s] commitment to being transparent, remaining responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals.”
Nonprofit organizations and representatives, to include John Goodwin, head of The Humane Society’s Help Stop Puppy Mills program, are displeased with this development.
“What the USDA has done is given cover to people who neglect or harm animals and get cited by USDA inspectors,” said Goodwin. “The public is no longer going to know which commercial dog breeders, horse trainers, which zoos, which research labs have horrible animal welfare track records.”
H/T: NBC 4-Columbus
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