The transition of power in the federal government has definitely affected not only people, but animals too. And negatively. Since President Trump took office, the USDA United States Department of Agriculture), which governs animals welfare, has gone through some dramatic changes. First, the USDA’s website was scrubbed of the Animal Welfare Act violations. This makes it very difficult for animal warriors and activists to check on animal abuse allegations, including puppy mills, circuses, zoos, laboratories, horse races, and other entities.
But the Humane Society of the United States is not backing down. THE HSUS has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice reminding the government that under a 2009 legal settlement with the Humane Society, the USDA had agreed to make some of the records public that have since been removed off its public database, specifically, records from 2009 to 2013. However, the animal welfare group also contends that removing information from the website about animal abuse violations goes against the federal Freedom of Information Act which requires that agencies make information available electronically to the public.
In addition, the unusual Trump administration choice of Brian Klippenstein to head up the USDA is disturbing to many. His organization, Protect the Harvest, is anything but animal-friendly. A strong proponent of puppy mills, circuses, hunting, and is against humane farming practices and organizations such as the HSUS and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Klippenstein doesn’t seem like the best person to be charged with protecting animals. In fact, it clearly states on the Protect the Harvest website:
“INFORM America’s consumers, businesses and decision-makers about the threats posed by animal rights groups and anti-farming extremists.”
As I type this, I have just received an email from PETA that the organization is also suing the USDA for withholding information from its website. The letter states, “PETA, a coalition of other organizations and Harvard Animal Law & Policy Fellow Delcianna Winders just filed a lawsuit this morning in U.S. district court. Hitting the “delete” key on inspection reports and other documents was illegal, the suit argues, and the agency must reinstate every one of them and add all new records in the future.” And you can sign their petition about this issue here.
And you can oppose Brian Klippenstein’s appointment to the USDA by signing here.
How do you feel about this issue? Comment below!