November 21, 2018

Announced Puppy Mill Inspections: Good or Bad?

When you hear the term “USDA licensee,” you might think the title comes with hefty federal oversight by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Regrettably, that’s not the case. 

For decades, certain facilities, including some cruel animal breeding operations, have been subject to unannounced inspections as infrequently as once every two years. To make things worse, when inspectors show up, breeders often refuse to cooperate or no one is present at the facility to let inspectors in.  

The USDA’s proposed solution to these issues is a pilot program that incorporates announced inspections for licensees. The agency claims that by giving certain licensees notice of an inspection ahead of time, it may be able to increase compliance rates, improve the efficiency of inspections and ensure more humane treatment of animals. 

To the contrary, the USDA’s departure from purely unannounced inspections provides a troubling opportunity for breeders to cover up potential animal welfare violations. Planned inspections would give puppy mills plenty of time to clean up filthy conditions and temporarily conceal suffering animals. Theoretically, the USDA’s plan could even promote negligence of animal welfare standards if licensees know exactly when inspections will occur. 

Given the USDA’s history of too often failing the animals it is entrusted to protect, along with its alarming decision to suppress animal welfare violation records, we believe this is a step in the wrong direction. Instead of making it easier for those who profit from animal cruelty to evade inspectors, the USDA should be increasing its enforcement and oversight of puppy mills.  

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