Thursday, February 23, 2017

USDA purges all of its animal welfare records

After his inauguration, The Donald appointed Brian Klippenstein to his USDA transition team, a known opponent of animal rights groups.  Earlier this month, the USDA purged its database of all records pertaining to inspection reports on puppy mills, private research facilities, and zoos that constitute the public record of commercial animal abuse. The USDA hasn't  said why it purged its records but the timing is too close to be coincidental.

Klippenstein, like Pruitt and the EPA, has a history of opposing legislation to improve animal welfare.  For example, his organization Protect the Harvest campaigned against a Massachusetts bill that banned the sale of eggs and meat from animals kept in cramped cages, like those that keep chickens from spreading their wings. Smarter, saner  heads prevailed and despite Klippenstein's efforts, the bill passed by 77%.

Now, in response to public anger, the USDA has backtracked and reposted a miniscule amount of information, but nothing close to what was originally there.

Natasha Daly of National Geographic reports why these records are so important:

Records that make it possible for journalists to report on animal abuse—such as those underpinning Mother Jones’s reports on 20 years of alleged abuse toward animals at a roadside zoo and the abuse of elephants at Ringling Brothers circus—are still offline. Records that provided deep, background evidence for a New York Times investigation into abuses against farm animals at a USDA-run research facility are too. So are the inspection reports that enabled The Augusta Chronicle, the Harvard Crimson, the Boston Globe, and the Daily Beast to report on patterns of abuse at several private research facilities against dogs and primates.

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