Having no voice, animals need and deserve protection from the industries that use and exploit them, and it’s the job of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to protect their welfare. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires USDA to inspect animal dealers, breeders, exhibitions, and laboratories to help assure that animals are provided minimal standards of care and treatment. Despite the law, however, USDA has indicated a willingness to skirt on its responsibility to protect animal welfare by adopting a system that would permit third parties to perform inspections, which could be used to reduce oversight by the USDA.
Such a move would compromise animal welfare and that is unacceptable!
There are serious concerns surrounding third-party inspections, such as conflicts of interest if industry groups become empowered to help their fee-paying members avoid USDA inspections. Industry group information forms and site visits are confidential, so the public won’t have access to information that is currently available through USDA, reducing transparency and public accountability. It’s also important to note that when an animal at a dealer, breeder, zoo, or laboratory facility is the victim of abuse and neglect, it is often not discovered until USDA does an inspection.
While not ideal, current regulations concerning animal welfare are better than USDA’s third-party inspection proposal. Please tell USDA to do its job and ditch third-party inspections.