The United States Government has just delivered a devastating blow to animal welfare.
Inspection reports made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are no longer being made available to the public. This includes any poor treatment or cruelty acts at zoos, circuses, and puppy mills. The information has previously been made available to the public over the last decade.
The inspections will still take place, but the conditions that animals are kept in will not be revealed, which many people worry will make it easier for acts of cruelty.
New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak has been a vocal advocate of shutting down puppy mills, and has spoken out against this decision.
"New Jersey will counter the USDA info blackout by prohibiting any pet store from sourcing a pet unless the breeder waives its 'so called' right of privacy and has its inspection reports on the USDA website," he said.
The reports on inspections used to be made public, but now if people want information about breeders, research facilities, or pet stores, they will have to invoke the Freedom of Information Act and file a request. These requests could involve long wait times, especially with the volume of requests that will be coming in.
This ruling also means that companies who test on animals will not be made public knowledge, in addition to the silence on puppy mills.
"This action by the USDA serves only to protect the puppy millers who get caught abusing or neglecting animals. Just in the past year these inspection reports have exposed puppy millers who threatened to physically harm inspectors, allowed dogs to suffer with painful and untreated injuries and in one case even shot a dog in the head," said John Goodwin, the senior director for the Humane Society of the U.S.'s Stop Puppy Mills campaign.
You can sign this petition to demand the USDA make their inspection information available again.