Who wouldn’t want to keep puppies safe? According to animal rights groups, the U.S. government.
In February, the United States Department of Agriculture suddenly removed its entire database of animal welfare records from its website. These records provided information about experiments on animals, the conditions at puppy mills and the treatment of animals at circuses, among other things.
Amidst public outcry, a portion of those records were reposted—but only a fraction, and no new reports of enforcement actions have been posted. The government said that the records would be available via a Freedom of Information Act request, though that is much more time consuming than searching a public database.
Animal rights groups are hoping to do something about that, noting that the information is critical for public oversight and that it hinders animal rights groups’ ability to ensure the law is being enforced. “Animals across the country are in jeopardy so long as the USDA’s illegal deletion of records continues, said Brittany Peet, director of captive animal law enforcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
But given the government’s response so far, it will be a long road.
National Geographic filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the USDA to obtain the entire animal welfare database. So far there has been no response.
National Geographic, among other animal welfare and media groups, also filed an FOIA request in February for records relating to the government’s decision to take the database
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