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.
Comments regarding this issue must be submitted to the USDA via the Federal Register. You may copy and paste the sample letter below or write your own comments. Directions are below the sample letter. Comments are due on March 21.
The Animal Welfare Act requires USDA to inspect animal dealers, breeders, exhibitions, and laboratories to help assure that animals are provided minimal standards of care and treatment. Adopting a system that would permit third parties to perform inspections would limit USDA oversite. I strongly believe this would compromise animal welfare, and that is unacceptable.
I’m also concerned about conflicts of interest, as industry groups could financially benefit from facilities wanting to minimize USDA oversight. Further, information and reports obtained by industry groups during facility site visits are considered confidential, so the public won’t have access to information that USDA currently makes available. This will reduce transparency and public accountability.
While not ideal, current regulations regarding animal welfare are better than USDA’s third-party inspection proposal. I strongly urge USDA to not use third-party inspections and instead perform its job as directed by the Animal Welfare Act.
- Go to the Federal Register
- Write your comments (or copy and paste from the sample letter) in the box.
- Scroll down and add your contact information.
- Check box next to “I read and understand the statement above.”
- Click the green “Submit Comment” box.
- A message will appear stating:
“Thank you! Your comment had been submitted to Regulations.gov for review by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.”
There will also be a “comment tracking number.”
- You’re done! Thank you for taking action to help animals in labs!