As readers might know, recently the U.S. Department of Agriculture removed thousands of animal-related public records from its website. This removal came without warning, without explanation and without any opportunity for public input or congressional process. For animal lovers of all political stripes, this first animal-related activity under President Trump’s administration is extremely worrisome.
These previously available reports included inspections by USDA of animals in research labs, puppy mills and zoos. The federal government offers precious little protection for animals, and this move effectively shut the door in the face of the animal-loving public.
On behalf of the largest animal welfare organization in San Mateo County of course I immediately reached out to this community’s member of the House of Representatives. This is by no means my first conversation with U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a solid friend of the animals and of this organization (and the proud mom of a PHS/SPCA graduate, Buddy).
From her response: “Like you, I am alarmed by the removal of this critical information, and I have taken several steps to require the USDA to repost the documents to their database ... regarding breaches of animal protection laws [which] plays a critical role in ensuring accountability for the inhumane treatment of animals by research labs, zoos, breeders and other facilities.
“As an animal lover, a pet owner, and a member of the Congressional Animal Caucus, I believe we have a responsibility to protect all animals against cruel treatment. That is why I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 1368, the Animal Welfare Accountability and Transparency Act, which would require USDA to report the documents on its website. This bill would also establish an additional deterrent against inhumane treatment of animals by removing tax benefits for businesses that violate the Animal Welfare Act or the Horse Protection Act. Please know that you can count on me to continue to fiercely advocate for animal rights in Congress.” Jackie, we certainly do!
Ken White is the president of the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA