The USDA, the federal government agency tasked with overseeing the use of animals in research experiments, the breeding of animals such as in puppy mills, the treatment of animals in zoos and more, has deliberately removed the animal welfare inspection reports from the USDA website.
More information on this egregious act of government concealment:
This action will be fought, and must be fought. Our laws under the Animal Welfare Act and in many states cannot be enforced without access to this public, tax-payer paid-for, information. This action, which comes on the heals of many Trump Administration’s attempts to conceal vital information from Americans, is only the latest act to try to slam power over Americans who know that animal welfare is a vital component of our society. But you can fight back right now! Here’s how:
1) Immediately strip your shopping list of products tested on animals. The animal welfare reports that the USDA is now concealing have shown for decades that testing on animals for cosmetics, household products, and more, is egregiously cruel. Further, it is unnecessary and not required by any standard. You can easily find similar (or even products you already use) on the list of consumer products not tested on animals at LeapingBunny.org. When our government won’t regulate companies that test on animals, it is our job to not support those companies.
2) Never again buy a pet from a pet store or even a breeder. Now that the USDA has taken away your access to information about which breeders have animal welfare violations, you may very likely be supporting animal cruelty, even if you buy from a breeder that seems “reputable”. The USDA inspection reports on puppy mills and breeders were meant to help consumers avoid supporting cruelty. That information has now been taken away from you, so adopt don’t shop from here on out.
3) Don’t support any zoo or animal entertainment organization, because you now have no way to tell if they are in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act. These organizations, like the circuses and other roadside zoos in Washington State, will use and abuse animals in plain sight and behind the scenes. Without access to USDA records on violations, you will never know what these companies are doing to animals. Since this entertainment is not necessary, avoid supporting animal cruelty and take a hike in a national or state park instead.
4) Support groups that advocate for the transparency of animal research, such as the White Coast Waste Project, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the Humane Society of the United States. Here in Washington State, we have several biomedical testing companies, such as SNBL Everett who were fined in December for the deaths of 38 monkeys, and research labs at the Univ. of Washington, who have had repeated animal welfare violations for the last 20 years. These groups have long histories of egregious violations of animal welfare, and you, as a taxpayer, have now been cut off from any information that the USDA has regarding these violations. So, if our government will not provide oversight for animals in research, we must support groups that will fight for this transparency, and for the reduction and elimination of animal experimentation.
5) Reduce, and then eliminate, as many animal-based products as you can from your diet. The USDA is responsible for overseeing transport of animals, which is one of the cruelest parts of factory farming. As Washingtonians know, chickens and other animals are routinely shipped up and down the I-5 highway to slaughterhouses. These animals have no protection from snow, rain, and 70 MPH winds, and many don’t survive the brutal trip. Now that the USDA will no longer allow you to gain access to information on the transport of animals, we must send a message to commercial animal operations and the US government that when we don’t know the truth about animal transport, we won’t participate in the abuse of animals. Here is a click-able list of easy alternatives to animal products.
6) Finally, and most importantly, get involved, stay involved, and be vigilant. Over the next days, weeks, and months, you will have opportunities to sign petitions, call your representatives, speak out on this issue, and more. These actions usually only take a few seconds or at most a minute, but we have to be ready, be organized, and work as a team. Start by signing up for action alerts from Care2, a petition site for environmental, human, and animal causes, as well as from the Humane Society of the United States, PETA, Physicians Committee, and the White Coat Waste Project. Here is the first petition to sign: USDA: Stop Hiding Animal Welfare Records And Covering For Abusers.
The saddest part of this “Trump” USDA is that animals will suffer horribly behind closed doors, but we still have SO MUCH POWER to change that. When government fails, and this administration is failing quickly, we the people must pull every lever to stabilize it — for ourselves, our children, and for animals. The lever we have at our disposal is our participation in the marketplace (i.e. not buying products without oversight for animal welfare), speaking out as an organized effort, and financially supporting groups who are changing things for the better. And this works! We not only have a fighting chance, collectively, we hold the biggest lever of all with our daily choices.