Last month, we told you about a disastrous plan by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider allowing some third-party inspections of certain regulated businesses, such as puppy mills, zoos, aquariums, and animal research labs, to determine which facilities warrant agency oversight. The plan could essentially allow these industries to police themselves when it comes to the welfare of the animals. To date, the USDA has held three different public “listening sessions” on the issue, with three more on the schedule, and the agency has also been collecting comments online and by mail. So far, the public has been telling the USDA loud and clear that its idea is resoundingly unpopular and inadvisable. We are proud of all the citizen advocates who have come forward to speak out on behalf of keeping the USDA’s current inspections program intact, urging the agency to instead focusing on fixing the defects and strengthening the enforcement of the current animal welfare inspection program.
Today, we are asking you to keep that pressure on.
There are many reasons why third-party inspections are a bad idea. The primary concern is that the USDA will be working with third-party groups that are partly funded by the regulated industries themselves. For example, The American Kennel Club, the most well-known dog club in the country, makes millions of dollars from puppy registrations every year, so it has a financial interest in keeping as many high-volume dog breeders in business as possible. And, as we detailed in our expose of the AKC a few years ago, the AKC regularly opposes laws that would require better standards of care for breeding dogs, and some of their most high profile breeders (who pass AKC inspections with flying colors) have been found guilty of animal cruelty due to puppy mill conditions.
A variety of “breeder association” groups, such as the Missouri Pet Breeders Association, take thousands of dollars in membership fees from breeders, giving them no incentive to help the USDA do its job. In fact, the MPBA’s current president has appeared in our Horrible Hundred report due to repeatedly failing to let USDA inspectors onto his property, and for having underweight and injured dogs who hadn’t been treated by a vet. Groups like AKC and MPBA claim to be the experts on canine breeding and care, but clearly a profit motive is their highest priority. There are similar problems with some other third-party groups that focus on zoos and research animals. One would be hard pressed to think of any third-party private groups that are impartial enough to take on this task.
Citizens who are concerned about animal welfare have spoken up against the third-party inspections proposal at public listening sessions in California, Maryland, and Missouri, and three more sessions are scheduled soon — one in FL, one in OH, and a virtual session. The deadline for comments is March 21, and we need your voice. Click here for details and to register.
You may also submit written statements before March 21 using one of the following methods:
- At the Federal eRulemaking Portal
- By postal mail: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0102, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.
P.S. There’s still time to comment on another urgent issue if you are a Florida resident. We need your voice to ask lawmakers to remove a provision from a tax bill that would overturn almost 60 local ordinances banning sales of puppy mill dogs in pet stores.