Deadline has passed
What happens to animals behind closed doors, even if violates the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), may stay out of public sight, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has its way. USDA has steadily been reducing its transparency over the past few years and now it’s taking steps to establish new policy that would hide animal cruelty and neglect committed by licensed and registered facilities.
Transparency brings accountability, which helps to ensure protection for animal welfare. USDA’s censorship of information would hinder AAVS’s important work and leave the public in the dark on matters concerning animal care and treatment. It is important to voice opposition to this proposal—today!
It’s USDA’s job to regulate licensed and registered facilities, not cater to what it refers to as its “customers.” USDA is already suppressing some of what goes on behind closed doors, referring to certain AWA violations as “teachable moments,” which are not noted on inspection records, essentially covering-up what the public has the right to know. USDA’s new policy would exacerbate this by suppressing the release of animal welfare records to the public, and those records that are released will likely be severely redacted, making them of little use as reliable sources of information.
We know we’re asking you to act during the busy holiday season, but your voice matters. The public has the right to know how animals are treated at government regulated facilities; we can’t change what we don’t know. So, please take a few minutes to speak out for the animals.
Directions to Submit Comments:
- To submit comments, go to the Federal Register.
It will say: “You are commenting on: The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Notice: Privacy Act; Systems of Records”
- In the box under “Your Information,” write your comments (or copy and paste from the sample letter below).
- Scroll down and add your name and contact information if you like. This is not required.
- Click on the blue arrow on the lower right.
- A message of what information will appear on regulations.gov.
- Scroll down and click the box indicating that “I have read and understand the statement above.”
- Click the gray button at the lower right that says “Submit Comment.”
A message will appear stating:
“Your comment was submitted successfully!” There will also be a “comment tracking number.”
- You’re done! Thank you for taking action to help animals!
I am very concerned about USDA’s proposed changes to its system of record keeping, pursuant to the Privacy Act. These changes would reduce public access to animal welfare records and other information about government licensed and registered facilities. Instead of making it more difficult to access this public information, USDA should be simplifying this process.
The importance of transparency cannot be overstated. Fulfilling the public’s right to know brings accountability, which helps to ensure the protection of animals at regulated facilities and that USDA is doing its job, as it is directed to do by the Animal Welfare Act and Congress. Further, because the regulatory process is funded by taxpayer dollars, the public deserves assurance that this job is not just being done but that it’s being done well.
While I can appreciate the protection of privacy, it is not acceptable to establish a formal policy that will conceal unlawful activity. USDA’s proposed policy changes will drastically reduce public access to records regarding the care and treatment of animals by various industries, leaving the public with few, if any, reliable sources to obtain information.
I care about animals—Americans care about animals, and we have the right to know how animals are being used and treated at government regulated facilities.