Rage Ensues as USDA Quietly Scrubs Animal Abuse Records
Reports about animal abuse have been removed from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website. The move has enraged animal rights activists, saying that the removal would promote more incidence of animal maltreatment and killings.
According to reports, the move to delete their database has something to do with "privacy concern."
In the annoucement, cited by CNN, the Animal and Plant and Help Inspection Service (APHIS) said they conducted a "comprehensive review" of the information posted on their website that's available for the public.
"As a result of the comprehensive review, APHIS has implemented actions to remove certain personal information from documents it posts on APHIS' website involving the Horse Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act," the announcement reads.
Aside from ground and online protests, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wrote a letter addressed to the U.S. Department of Justice, reiterating the terms of a 2009 legal settlement with HSUS. The settlement states that the USDA has agreed to make some of its animal abuse records public and accessible.
The letter also states that both parties have 30 days to come up with an agreement, otherwise the court can reopen the lawsuit which was brought by HSUS in 2005, after USDA refused to release under Freedom of Information Act annual reports about animals in biomedical research labs, Science Mag reported.
Politicians have also joined the campaign to immediately restore the hidden information. In a CBS Local report, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez spoke at the Bergen County Animal Shelter on Monday, grilling those who are involved in making the abrupt decision.
"I also want to know who was involved in making such a poor and misguided decision to give animal abusers a free pass," Menendez said.
Menendez and 17 other Democratic senators also wrote a letter to the USDA's acting deputy secretary pleading for public access.
Before the removal of the information, the website included information of establishments and owners charged with animal abuse, inspection and license information, as well as annual reports from every animal facility in the U.S.