The Animal Welfare Act is arguably one of the most important and largest animal protection laws in our country and it’s up to the Department of Agriculture to enforce it. Under the act, animal facilities from zoos to research laboratories, are inspected annually to make sure they are in compliance with minimum welfare standards, Unfortunately, facilities that are found to be in violation of those standards often receive no more than a slap on the wrist. Their operating licenses are often renewed by the USDA without requiring that violations be rectified. In February, without warning, the USDA removed pertinent animal welfare information from their website. This information included inspection reports and other details about the treatment of animals in labs, circuses, breeding facilities, and exhibitors, among others. This lack of transparency is troubling, at best. However, there is change on the horizon: In late 2017, the USDA announced that they are considering requiring that licensees show compliance before their license can be renewed and accepted comments and feedback from the public. While this requirement seems an obvious one, we are hopeful that the USDA will make this move in the right direction. We hope that by shedding light on the larger animal welfare picture outside of our own shelter, that we can do our part to help raise awareness and illicit change.
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