Animal Groups Win Appeal
Court Must Reconsider USDA Inaction to Protect Birds
January 17, 2020
JENKINTOWN, PA—The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) and the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC) have won their appeal in their case against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its inaction and “unreasonable delay” that have resulted in the agency’s failure to create regulatory oversight for birds in commerce around the country, as required by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). In its unanimous decision, the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals stated, “USDA has yet to fulfill its statutory responsibility to issue standards regarding the humane treatment of birds…, and the Department has issued no standards specifically applicable to birds.”
This latest decision is part of AAVS’s nearly two-decade long effort to secure AWA protection for birds who are exploited in commercial industries.
“USDA made a settlement agreement with our affiliate, the Alternatives Research & Development Foundation, in 2000 to draft regulatory protections for birds ‘within a reasonable time,’ and other than making an initial request for public comments on potential regulations, it has done nothing,” said AAVS President Sue Leary. “USDA is mandated by Congress to protect the welfare of animals under the AWA, but instead it is enabling those that profit from animal suffering. It’s unconscionable.”
AWC developed species-specific draft regulations for birds that were formally submitted to USDA in 2004 and were supported by 28 animal welfare organizations, including AAVS. The draft addressed serious issues impacting animal welfare at mass breeding facilities called bird mills, inhumane conditions during transport, and standards for proper living environments for flight animals, to name a few. Despite this, and the law, USDA has instead chosen to not regulate birds and perpetuate animal exploitation and abuse, without accountability or chance for public scrutiny.
“The public is largely unaware of the cruelty and suffering involved at all stages of the pet bird trade because there are no regulations concerning the care and treatment of birds,” said Denise Kelly, AWC Co-Founder and President. “AWC has had to develop an extensive outreach education program to inform the public, as well as shelters that deal with cruelty and negligence cases involving birds at the local level. We’re happy the court recognizes our investment to make sure birds are cared for properly.”
The Court of Appeals sent the case back to the district court so that it can re-evaluate USDA’s illegal inaction and delay in developing regulations regarding the care and use of birds under the AWA.
The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) was founded in 1883 and is the oldest non-profit animal advocacy and educational organization in the United States dedicated to ending experimentation on animals in research, testing, and education. AAVS also opposes and works to end other forms of cruelty to animals. We work with students, grassroots groups, individuals, teachers, the media, other national organizations, government officials, members of the scientific community, and advocates in other countries to legally and effectively end the use of animals in science through education, advocacy, and the development of alternative methods to animal use. www.aavs.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC) was formed in 2000 to create a voice in the animal protection community for captive birds. Working with like-minded professionals in related fields, AWC provides educational resources for animal advocates, the media, general public, and through special AWC sponsored programs. It also operates the Avian Welfare Resource Center, the leading website dedicated to captive bird welfare, providing a variety of resources for bird caretakers and animal care professionals, including downloadable brochures and posters, articles, webinars, and more.