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Durbin Demands Trump Administration Restore Animal Cruelty, Puppy Mill Records On USDA Website

“U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) [February 13, 2017]  joined a group of 18 Democratic Senators in calling on the Trump Administration to immediately restore animal cruelty information recently purged from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website.  APHIS makes inspection reports for all regulated entities and annual reports submitted by research laboratories available to the public in order to create greater transparency, accountability and enforcement of animal cruelty laws.  “The public has a right to know if regulated entities have subjected animals in their care to abuse or otherwise failed to meet basic welfare standards.  Public access to information can guide consumer decision making and plays an important role in deterring regulated entities from violating the law,” wrote the Senators in a letter to USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Young. Seven states prohibit the purchase of animals from commercial breeders and so-called “puppy mills” with violations under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Horse Protection Act (HPA).  They also rely on information to enforce state laws that, until now, was readily available on the APHIS website. “Lack of access to AWA and HPA documents not only undermines the effectiveness of these federal laws, but also interferes with state and local laws meant to protect animals and consumers,” the letter continued.  “Without ready access to inspection reports, dog sellers in those states will have no practical way to comply with these laws, and state and local law enforcement efforts will be severely impeded.” Joining Durbin on the letter were: Bob Menendez (D-NJ); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Ron Wyden (D-OR); Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Tom Udall (D-NM); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Charles E. Schumer (D-NY); Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Gary Peters (D-MI); Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Patty Murray (D-WA); Martin Heinrich (D-NM); Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Ben Cardin (D-MD); and Bernie Sanders (D-VT). In 2013, Durbin introduced the Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (PUPS Act), which requires all breeders that sell more than 50 dogs a year be licensed and undergo inspections to ensure dogs are receiving proper care. In 2014, the USDA implemented a rule based on Durbin’s PUPS Act that closed a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that allowed domestic puppy mills selling puppies via the internet to escape regulation and avoid inspection.  Unfortunately, records of these online puppy retailers have also been removed from this section of the USDA website.”

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