June 1, 2017

USDA Data Purge Update: Current Reports Lacking Vital Data

As we reported in early February, shortly after the new administration assumed office the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reversed a decades-long commitment to transparency by removing huge volumes of animal welfare information from its publicly accessible website. Despite outcry from citizens and legislators alike, the overwhelming majority of inspection reports for dog breeders have not been restored.

Of the approximately 1,500 dog breeders currently licensed by USDA, reports for just 21 facilities have been reposted to the USDA website. Notably, even though Missouri and Ohio have high numbers of licensees, none of the 21 facilities are in those states. 

Furthermore, despite USDA’s insistence that animal welfare inspection reports, including photographs, are still obtainable through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request process, the inspection photos and related documentation we received recently in response to one such request (made in 2016, but fulfilled post-purge due to a mounting backlog) are missing critical information. As you can see below, USDA has withheld all identifying information on the inspection photos we requested, including the dog breeder's name, license number and state. 

Portion of a USDA Dog Breeder Inspection Report
Portion of a USDA Dog Breeder Inspection Report obtained by the ASPCA through a FOIA request prior to February’s information blackout.

USDA Dog Breeder Inspection Report obtained by the ASPCA last month through a FOIA request.
USDA Dog Breeder Inspection Report obtained by the ASPCA last month through a FOIA request. Note that all information that could identify the breeder or the dog described has been removed.

Without this information, animals like the dogs pictured below will continue to suffer while unscrupulous commercial dog breeders are allowed to hide in the shadows.






USDA Dog Breeder Inspection Report Photos

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