By May Strong
February 19, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – An outcry raised by citizens nationwide over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s removal of all animal welfare records off its website, as well as a lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has resulted in partial restoration. But the Humane Society says that’s not enough, and is threatening litigation to force the agency to restore records relied upon by the public and animal rights organizations.
So far, only the records on inspection reports of research institutions and some federal labs are back online. Information on complaints of animal cruelty involving breeders, zoos and most other facilities overseen by the USDA are still not accessible, the Washington Post reports.
Speculation has been that the agency removed data after horse breeders whose names were published on the site filed a lawsuit claiming privacy violation. A federal veterinary inspector had found the horse breeders inflicted cruelty on Tennessee Walking Horses through a n illegal practice called soring, in which animals are intentionally injured to produce a higher gait.
Nearly 100 House members, including several Republicans, and 18 Democratic Senators sent letters to the White House urging that the records be restored. That’s after receiving a deluge of mail from constituents, many of whom sent photos of their pets and urged that the information on animal welfare be restored, the Washington Post reported in a story titled “Resistance is growing to USDA’s blackout of animal welfare records.”